NEW DELHI: The Ministry of External Affairs, which maintains a list of gifts received by senior officials and deposited in the Toshakhana, recently added a new section titled “Gifts From Domestic/ Unknown Sources (January 2016 To April 2018).”
This follows the controversy over two gold biscuits of 20 grams (valued at Rs 63,000 each) and an iPhone 7, which were reportedly received in October 2016 as Diwali gifts by then Union finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia from an anonymous source at his new Moti Bagh residence, which he sent to the Toshakhana.
As per government guidelines, any “gift received from foreign sources are deposited in Toshakhana for evaluation by Customs Appraiser to assess their market value. The recipient is informed about the assessed market value of the gift by Toshakhana.
If the value is less than Rs 5000, the gift is offered to the recipient for retention. If the value is more than Rs 5000, the recipient is offered the option to purchase the gift on payment of the difference between the market value and Rs 5000.”
But when media reports earlier this year started speculating that the anonymous donor who sent those gifts to the revenue secretary may have been the now absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, Adhia, now the Revenue Secretary, not only produced a receipt from the MEA for submitting these items, but also strongly denied knowing who had sent them to him.
The MEA site did not list these items. The MEA, however, had a simple answer: Under the existing format, there was no slot for marking such gifts from “unknown donors” and hence, they remained unlisted.
To correct that, the ministry recently added the new section under which these items are clearly marked. But then, that begs the question: Given the sensitive post held by Adhia, why was no probe ordered into who the mystery donor was?