DISEQUILIBRIUM: Modern Day Drain Inspector

CBI arrests an income tax officer and two others in a bribery case

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested an Income Tax Officer, Sirhind (Punjab) and two IT Inspectors (one serving, one retired) in a bribery case of Rs 70,000.

CBI had registered a case on a complaint received from a businessman of Mandi Gobindgarh, District Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab). The complainant had alleged that the Income Tax assessment proceedings of his bank accounts transactions were being processed by the Income Tax officer, (ITO) in Sirhind, Punjab. The complainant approached a retired Income Tax inspector who was allegedly close to said ITO for necessary help. The retired inspector demanded a bribe of Rs 1 lakh on behalf of said ITO for getting favourable assessment order. After negotiation, the bribe was reduced to Rs 70,000.

CBI laid a trap, in which the retired Income Tax Inspector accepted Rs 70,000 from the complainant on behalf of said ITO. Thereafter, he gave share of Rs.10,000 to another inspector and then went to office chamber of ITO along with the complainant. The ITO acknowledged the said bribe and assured the complainant that his work will be done. All the three accused were caught while demanding and accepting the said bribe.

Searches were conducted at the residences of all the three accused persons at Sirhind, Patiala and Chandigarh, which led to recovery of certain property documents and details pertaining to bank accounts. The arrested accused are being produced today in the Designated Court at Mohali (Punjab).

CBI arrests then inspector of Works (Railway) in a fraud case

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested then Inspector of Works, South Eastern Railway, Bhubaneswar from DRM Chowpathy, Alipurduar (West Bengal). He was absconding since July 15, 2008.

CBI had registered a case on August 20, 1999, and filed a chargesheet in the case on January 31, 2002, against the then Inspector of Works, Grade-II, South Eastern Railway, Bhubaneswar and 04 others u/s 120-B r/w 420, 467, 471 of IPC & Section 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of PC Act. 1988 on the allegations that the said accused and others misappropriated steel rods, cement bags etc. and thereby caused alleged loss of Rs 27,35,518 (approx) to the South Eastern Railway. The said accused was absconding since filing of chargesheet and the Special Judge, CBI Cases, Bhubaneswar had issued Non Bailable Warrant (NBW) against him on July 15, 2008.

The arrested accused will be produced before the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Bhubaneswar.

CBI arrests a medical officer in a case related to Vyapam scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested a medical officer from Haidergarh, District- Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh) who was absconding in a case related to Vyapam scam.

A chargesheet was filed against the accused on November 23, 2017, in a Vyapam related case pertaining to MPPMT-2012 examination before the special judge, Vyapam cases, Bhopal. After taking the cognisance, the trial court issued non-bailable warrant against the absconding chargesheeted accused. In pursuance to such, the accused who was posted as medical officer at CHC Jattuva Tappa, District Rae Bareli (UP) was arrested.

The investigation revealed that the accused, in conspiracy with co-accused middleman and racketeer, appeared at the MPPMT-2012 examination centre in Indore and helped co-accused (beneficiary candidate) by allowing her to copy answers from him. It was also revealed that in 2012, the said accused was a student of MBBS course at a government medical college, Kanpur (admission Batch year 2008) and he had no intention of taking admission in MBBS course in any private medical college of Madhya Pradesh and his intention was only to provide alleged illegal copying assistance to the beneficiary candidate. It was further alleged that in connivance with co-accused middleman and private medical college, Bhopal, the accused blocked a seat of MBBS course at said private medical college, Bhopal and later on vacated the same, which was filled by the said medical college without following any due procedure. The arrested accused will be produced in the designated court at Bhopal.

Three years imprisonment with fine of Rs 5 lakh to then inspector of Income Tax in a dispropotionate assets case

The special judge, CBI cases, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi has sentenced Savitri Singh, then inspector, Income Tax, Survey Unit-I, Income Tax Department, New Delhi, to undergo three years simple imprisonment with fine of Rs 5 lakh in a disproportionate assets case. The court further ordered that property worth Rs 20 lakh (approimately) will also be attached as penalty.

CBI had registered two separate cases against then general manager (an IAS officer), DMS, New Delhi, and his wife Savitri Singh, then inspector, Income Tax, Survey Unit-I working in the office of deputy director (investigation), Income Tax, Delhi. It was alleged that the then general manager, DMS, New Delhi (now deceased) entered into conspiracy with his wife and had amassed disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 53,23,408/ during the period February 1 1980 and September 25, 1997. After completion of investigation, a charge sheet U/s 13(2) r/w 13(1)(e) PC Act, 1988, against both accused was filed in the court of special judge, CBI cases, Tis Hazari court, Delhi on May 28, 1998. Charges were framed on September 25, 2005. The then general manager, DMS, New Delhi expired in 2010 and case against him was abated. The trial court found the accused guilty and convicted her.

This is a flavour of the CBI’s recent conquests. Which would lead one to presume that the premier anti probe agency has become a drain inspector at best. After recent setbacks, most notably in the Maran-Maxis case, the sensational rejection of the four persons inside house, no breakage, no forced entry assumption in the Aarushi Talwar murderer case and of course the kick in the seat of their pants received from CBI trial court judge OP Saini who raised Cain by saying that he waited seven long years — day in day out — for CBI to come to him with the right evidence.

What ails the investigative agency, why has it fallen off the cliff, why have the wheels come off the bus so suddenly? Legal and oversight challenges to the tenure of two successive directors AP Singh and Ranjit Sinha dogged by clouds of jiggery pokery have not helped matters. Caged parrot be damned, basic questions about probity, propriety and integrity have been raised without any answers forthcoming. The sheer intensity of the catechism gruelling and enduring.

The final denouement came last week, when the apex court which has so often given impetus to lack lustre and lackadaisical probes by the CBI fulminating and questioning the agency — the bank details of persons who had visited the official residence of former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha who according to the court had prima-facie scuttled the probe in the coal scam cases will be examined, CBI’s special investigation team stated to the Supreme Court. “Substantial progress has been made in the investigation and its scope has been widened”, RS Cheema, the SPP told the bench of justices AK Sikri, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. But the bench was not happy about the tardy pace of probe. “You have given us 11 reports of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and 18 reports of CBI. We must say, the progress in the investigation has been slow. Even today, when we see the 18th report of CBI, it says one case in pending,” it said. SC had in January last year constituted the SIT headed by the CBI director to look into the prima facie allegations against Ranjit Sinha of trying to influence the probe in coal scam cases. Complicating matters, during the hearing, Cheema told the bench that visitors at the former CBI chief’s house were more than what was there in the visitors’ diary maintained at his official residence and its probe was going on.

All this obviously doesn't augur too well with the coal scam probe and its closure. The pace at which the agency works or rather drags the cases raises suspicion. Is the agency then good enough to do the work outlined at the outset, which is to nail bribery cases involving junior flunkeys or does it have the wherewithal and expertise to conduct full throttle investigations into high profile white collar crimes is the moot point? That it is skewed towards drain inspector type of investigations seems to be the order of the day. Repeatedly, it has been found to fall short of going for the kill, getting convictions in big bang cases. Does that come from the mindset of the personnel who man the agency? When it does like Aarushi murder, then a higher court trashes its judgment, as did the Allahabad High Court. A gruesome double murder, a botched up investigation, a protracted trial by media and a nine year long unanswered whodunit. The riveting case turned out to be wash out with the film Talvar asking searching questions and, perhaps, influencing the judgment too. In October last year, while over ruling an earlier verdict in Aarushi’s murder (in 2008), the Allahabad High Court scathingly likened the lower court judge to a “math teacher” and a “film director trying to thrust coherence into scattered facts.” The judge who had declared the Talwars guilty in 2015 had “aberrated,” declared the high court ruling. “The learned trial judge cannot act like a math teacher who is solving a mathematical question by analogy after taking a certain figure for granted... Like a film director, the trial judge has tried to thrust coherence amongst facts inalienably scattered here and there but not giving any coherence to the idea as to what in fact happened,” the judgement observed sarcastically.

From Congress Bureau of Investigation to a hand maiden of the current government, is that the remit of the premier probe outfit, will it remain an instrumentality to rein in political opponents. To their credit, the CBI seemed to be doing a terrific job with bank fraud cases, going after the collusive cartels who looted Indian banks. But this too seems to have ended quietly. This writer has in the past highlighted the exemplary work being done by the Bank Frauds and Securities Cell of the agency. Last week, there was some renewed hope in this regard when the CBI registered 22 cases against PNB officials relating to fraud in bank loans processed by them on the basis of forged documents causing a loss of RS 80 crore to the bank.

While that was heartening, the journey from caged parrot to pusillanimous drain inspector has been a shocking tale of woe. And to confirm the drain inspector routine, I have just received this latest release.

CBI arrests a sub-inspector of Railway Protection Force in a bribery case

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested a sub-inspector, Railway Protection Force, Simuluguri (Assam) for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 6,500 from the complainant.

A case was registered U/s 7 of the PC Act, 1988 on the allegations that the sub-inspector demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 for releasing complainant’s vehicle which had hit barricade of railway crossing at Bihubari Road, Similuguri. It was also alleged that the RPF official deployed there had seized the said truck (dumper). The complainant tried to get released the said truck from the Simuluguri railway station but the sub-inspector demanded the bribe. CBI laid a trap and caught the accused red-handed while accepting the bribe from complainant. Searches were conducted at the official and residential premises of accused including Jaipur (Rajasthan); Moriani, District- Jorhat (Assam) and Simuluguri (Assam) which led to recovery of certain documents. The arrested accused is being produced today before the special judge, CBI cases, Guwahati.

Sandeep Bamzai