Guwahati: A special court here on Saturday sent Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) chairman Rakesh Kumar Paul to 14 days’ police custody.
He was arrested on Friday under various Sections of Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120B and 420.
After grilling him, the police learnt that he owned properties in real estate worth crores of rupees. He was a notary in a local court here till his appointment as an APSC member in 2008.
While Paul was being taken to court for production, protestors of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and various other organisations chanted slogans demanding that he should not be granted bail.
For the past few years, the KMSS has been demanding his arrest for the alleged cash-for-jobs racket in the Commission.
Paul’s counsel Angshuman Bora said, “There is no material against my client. He was arrested based on the statement given by a co-accused (Naba Kumar Patir). As such, the case will not stand in the court”.
Patir, who is an assistant engineer in the department of town and country planning in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh, was arrested last month after being caught red-handed accepting bribes of Rs.10 lakh from a lady dental surgeon.
Patir had approached her promising a job through the APSC and demanded the money. Later, she tipped off the police leading to his arrest. Based on his confession, a personal security officer (PSO) of an APSC member, Samedur Rahman, was subsequently arrested. The duo was apparently working as conduits in the sale of the plum jobs. The police had sent a notice to Rahman but there was no trace of him.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who had allegedly favoured Paul’s appointment as the APSC chairman in 2012, claimed the wrongdoings in APSC were not committed during the term of his previous Congress government.
“Was there a case against him (Paul) when the Congress was in power? Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam’s finance, education and health minister) claimed he would rid the APSC of the wrongdoings. How could the crime be committed during BJP’s term?” Gogoi asked.
At least two ministers asserted on Saturday that the Sarbananda Sonowal government would maintain zero tolerance to corruption. The BJP-led government was installed in May and ever since then, at least half a dozen senior government officials were arrested on corruption charges.