New Delhi: After probing various aspects of bribery scam in railways, CBI is all set to question former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal this week.
The questioning of Bansal will revolve around his role in the appointment of suspended Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar involving his nephew Vijay Singla who was allegedly caught accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh, official sources said.
Bansal, who had to resign from the Union Cabinet in the aftermath of the case involving his nephew who is alleged to have been operating from his official residence, has been maintaining that he had done no wrong in the appointment of Kumar as Member of the Railway Board, a post equivalent to the Secretary in Government.
While CBI has managed to secure all files pertaining to the appointment and also recorded the statement of Kumar, his nephew and Private Secretary Rahul Bhandari, Bansal will be confronted with the evidence collected by the probe agency about his meeting with the suspended Railway Board member in Mumbai on April 16 this year.
Bansal is alleged to have met Kumar in Mumbai on April 16 and the agency claimed that during this meeting the appointment of Kumar, who was General Manager (West), was confirmed.
CBI sources said questioning Singla and his associates had led the agency to understand “the role of authority which was supposed to change Kumar’s discipline from Member (staff) to Member (Electrical) and allow him to continue with additional charge of GM (West).”
Lateral shifting of the Board members is done in the same manner as the appointment of a new member, which is finalised after vigilance clearance and the nod of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
There are some telephonic intercepts which may come up during the questioning of Bansal, the sources said.
Over 1,000 phone calls were intercepted during the two-month surveillance on Mahesh Kumar and Singla. CBI has so far arrested nine persons in the case.
The calls were among four key players in the scandal– Kumar, Singla and middlemen Manjunath and Sandeep Goyal. The location of Singla during surveillance of CBI showed his frequent presence at the former Railway Minister’s residence and Rail Bhavan, the sources claimed.
According to investigation, the initial bribe money was not physically brought from Bangalore but through hawala route and Manjunath allegedly used his contacts in Delhi to manage the money and got it delivered to Singla in Chandigarh, they said.
The agency alleged a part payment of Rs 90 lakh was delivered to Singla, after which it carried out searches at their premises and recovered the bribe amount.
Kumar was in between elevated from GM (West) to Member (Staff) in Railway Board, a post in which he was not very apparently interested. He then allegedly asked Goyal to help him retain the additional charge of GM (West) for which the middleman demanded Rs two crore as immediate payment.
However, there were calls in which Singla is purported to be assuring Kumar that the work would be done. Kumar was allegedly assured that he will get the lucrative post of Member (Electrical) in exchange for “pecuniary gratification”, the sources said.