The CBI on Tuesday questioned ousted Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in connection with the Rs 10 crore bribe-for-post scam in the Railways.
And the questioning of the Chandigarh MP, who arrived at the CBI office at the Jamnagar House here at around 11 am, continued till evening. He left the office at 6.40 pm. Bansal reportedly told the CBI sleuths that he had no knowledge of any deal between his nephew Vijay Singla and Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar.
As for his meeting with Kumar in Mumbai on April 17, Bansal said that he had not given any assurance to the latter that he would indeed be promoted to the post of Board Member (Electrical). He had came under the scanner after the CBI arrested Singla on May 3, while accepting the alleged `90 lakh bribe, which was sent by associates of Mahesh. Mahesh had allegedly got in touch with Singla to get himself transferred to the more lucrative post of the Railway Board Member (Electrical), for which the latter is said to have demanded a bribe of Rs 10 crore.
According to the CBI, the Rs 90 lakh handed over to Singla was a part payment of the bribe. It was also alleged that Singla was operating from the Railway Minister’s official residence here.
Bansal, who stepped down in the wake of Singla’s arrest, has maintained that there was nothing inappropriate in Mahesh’s appointment as Railway Board Member (Staff). In fact, the nod from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet(ACC) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is mandatory for the appointment or the lateral shifting of a Railway Board Member.
As part of the ongoing probe, the premier investigation agency had obtained transcripts of 1000 phone calls made by the accused. It was after analysing the call data records (CDR) that the CBI sleuths came to know that Singla had promised to secure the prized post for Mahesh Kumar. Following this, the CBI recently grilled Singla to find out who had the authority to sanction Kumar’s lateral transfer from the post of Member(Staff) to Member (Electrical).
During the course of the investigation, the probe agency also questioned Bansal’s private secretary Rahul Bhandari. A 1997 batch Punjab cadre IAS officer, Bhandari is widely regarded as a member of Bansal’s inner circle.
And he was reportedly quizzed on the various appointments in the Railway Ministry over the past months as also Bansal’s meeting with Kumar in Mumbai on April 17.
Until now, the CBI has arrested Mehesh and Singla as well as middlemen Sandeep Goyal and Manjunath, who is the managing director of railway equipment supplying company, along with five others in the case.