The CBI on Monday seized various documents relating to officers’ appointments, promotions, contracts and tenders from Rail Bhavan, the Railway ministry’s headquarters, as part of its investigations into the Rs 10 crore bribes-for-post scam.
CBI sources said that over the past week, the investigative agency had been studying transcripts of over 1,000 intercepted calls of senior Railway officials and middlemen involved in the case.
The CBI had tapped the phones of suspended Railway Board Member Mahesh Kumar, former Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla, Bangalore-based electrical equipment supplier Manjunath and middleman Sandeep Goyal. While examining the intercepted calls, the agency came across discussions of several contracts and postings.
It is likely that the agency may register more cases if it comes across any irregularities or evidence of bribes being paid for postings. Meanwhile, the agency may soon question Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal and other Board members, senior Railway officials in connections with its investigations. At a later stage, Bansal too may be quizzed.
On May 3, the CBI arrested Singla, Goyal while accepting Rs 90 lakh as a part payment of the bribe sent by Mahesh to Chandigarh. The bribe was arranged by Manjunath. Mahesh had agreed to pay Rs 10 crore to Singla to be appointed as Member (Electrical) on the Board.
Lens on Bansal aide
Rahul Bhandari, a Punjab cadre IAS officer currently on deputation as the private secretary to former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, has been asked by the state government to reveal the details of his properties which have increased five times in the last three years. It was after Bhandari’s name cropped up in the Railgate probe that Punjab Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh ordered him to furnish the details. “Bhandari has yet to reply to a few queries,” Rakesh said.
Sources said Punjab’s personnel department asked Bhandari for the details of the apartment he bought last year in Sector 44 Noida for Rs 97.50 crore. Bhandri has replied that he purchased the property after taking a Rs 55 lakh loan from Canara Bank and borrowing Rs 30 lakh from his close friend and chartered accountant Sunil Kumar Gupta as an interest-free loan. Not satisfied with reply, the department has further asked him if the chartered accountant had shown this Rs 30 lakh loan in his annual Income Tax returns. It also wanted to know how much was left in Bhandari’s salary after the monthly instalment towards loan recovery was deducted. As per the property returns filed by Bhandari in the central Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), he had properties worth Rs 28 lakh in 2010. In 2012, it increased to Rs 1.32 crore, and he reportedly told the DoPT that he had bought agriculture land worth Rs 9.97 lakh in 2011. The Noida Sector 44 apartment is jointly registered with his wife Rakhi Gupta Bhandari, also a Punjab cadre IAS officer. Rakhi also owns a 822 square yard residential property in Noida.
Also, the Bhandaris have a 500 square yard plot worth Rs 32.50 lakh in the Punjab IAS Cooperative Building Society and a Rs 8 lakh property in Ludhiana, which they bought from one Anita Singla.
CBI sleuths have questioned Bhandari over his alleged involvement in the bribery case.
Sources said the agency will now look into the property details as a piece of land Bhandari and Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla had bought from Ajay Garg, another accused in the scam, is now under scanner.
The CBI has recorded statements of former Union Ministers of State (coal) Santosh Bagrodia and Dasari Narayan Rao in connection with its probe into the irregularities in coal block allocations.
The former ministers gave statements regarding their decisions and roles during the coal block allocation process between the 2006 and 2009, when they were in office.They were quizzed regarding their meetings with representatives of the companies which applied for and bagged coal blocks.
The CBI has registered eleven cases against companies that were allocated coal blocks. The agency alleges that the companies illegally got the coal blocks because of the “connivance” of government officials. It has sought and received 750 files relating to various decisions taken by the screening committee and the ministry. The files formed the basis of questions asked to Bagrodia and Rao.