JAIPUR: Senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary (Mines) Ashok Singhvi was today arrested by Rajasthan's Anti Corruption Bureau in an alleged case of graft involving Rs 2.55 crore.
He was detained here last evening after five persons including two senior officers of his department were arrested in connection with the case in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday.
"IAS officer Ashok Singhvi was arrested at 3 AM. A search operation was launched at his residence at hospital road in Jaipur last evening and list of seizure is being prepared," IG-ACB Dinesh MN told PTI here.
A team of ACB conducted preliminary interrogation of Singhvi at his residence last night and took him to the ACB office later where he was arrested.
Before his arrest, the ACB conducted three raids in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday and seized total illicit cash of Rs.3.82 crore. Rs. 2.55 crore (out of the total seizure) was to be delivered allegedly to Singhvi and other officers, according to ACB officials.
The bribe amount of Rs. 2.55 crore was allegedly taken from a Chittorgarh-based mines owner Sher Khan for allowing him to restart operations in his mines, which were closed by the mines department, DG-ACB Navdeep Singh said. The department had cancelled lease of his six mines and the alleged bribe was taken to facilitate Khan and issue him permission to reopen the mines.
"Khan did not complain about the demand of bribery to ACB and we conducted the operation on the basis of our own information," he said.
Khan allegedly sent Rs. 2.55 crore to his Chartered Accountant in Udaipur which was to be allegedly handed over to mines department's middleman Sanjay Sethi, Singh said. Sethi was allegedly supposed to deliver this money to Additional Director-Mines (AD-M) HQ- Udaipur Pankaj Gehlot and Principal Secretary- Mines Singhvi, he said.
Following information about the deal, a team of ACB raided the office of the the CA in Bhupalpura in Udaipur where the cash of Rs.2.55 crore was recovered yesterday.
Sethi's house in Udaipur was also searched during which cash of Rs.1.25 crore was allegedly recovered, he said. Simultaneously, another team of ACB raided the premises of Senior Mines Engineer (SME) - Bhilwara P R Ameta where he was present along with Sher Khan's aide Rashid Khan.
During the search, Rs. 2.36 lakh in cash was recovered allegedly from the possession of Rashid. Rs.43 lakh was allegedly found deposited in 14 bank accounts of SME Ameta which have also been seized. Total seizure of cash in three raids in Udaipur and Bhilwara is of Rs.3,82,36,000 and it was illicit money.
Of the total cash amount, Rs.2.55 crore was to be handed over allegedly to Singhvi and Gehlot, claimed the ACB officials. All the five - Pankaj Gehlot (AD-M), P R Ameta (SME), Shyam Singh Singhvi (CA), Sanjay Sethi and Rashid were arrested yesterday afternoon and search operation at the house of Principal Secretary was launched in the evening. Sher Khan was detained last night and will be arrested today, IG Dinesh MN said.
Ashok Singhvi, a 1983-IAS officer, is also the Chairman of Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals ltd- Udaipur. He has in the past held posts like Principal Secretary Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Small Industries, Khadi and Village Industries department, Administrative Reforms, Secretary Mines, Commissioner Transport department, Member of Revenue Board Ajmer, Special Secretary Finance (Expenditure) department and Collector in Udaipur and Bundi districts.