Ex-customs official nabbed after absconding for 20 years, convicted in graft case

A former official with the customs department, who had gone underground after registration of a corruption case in 1999 and was arrested from UP last year where he was working as a doctor as well as a professor in a medical college under an alias, was on Friday convicted by a special CBI court.

Special CBI judge SU Wadgaonkar convicted the former public servant who had later been dismissed from service of the offences of cheating, criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act for the offence of criminal misconduct. The court imposed a total fine of Rs. 9 lakh on him.

The man Abhinav Singh had been arrested on March 4, 2019 from Mathura, UP, two decades after he absconded. He had been declared a 'proclaimed offender' by the court in the meantime as he would not appear before it despite warrants.

Public Prosecutor CBI, Economic Offences Wing Jitendra Kumar Sharma said that in Mathura, Singh was living as Dr. Rajiv Gupta - his brother-in-law. He had made identity documents such as PAN card, Aadhar card and driving licence with the new identity. To avoid detection, his children too had taken the assumed surname. He had bagged jobs in different medical colleges. In a medical college in Mathura, he had been teaching internal medicine to students as an associate professor. "His brother-in-law had long settled in the US. He was using his brother-in-law's degrees to get the jobs," Sharma said, adding that Singh also used to prescribe medicine and enter the operation theatre.

By the time he was arrested last year, 39 witnesses had already been examined in the case and only a handful were left to depose. A witness Singh wanted to examine, who had already testified many years ago, could not be traced anymore by the CBI.

The offence had taken place between 1997-98 and Singh absconded since the registration of the case in September 1999. As per the CBI case, Singh was then the appraiser officer in the Customs department had received Rs. 5 lakhs and a Maruti Zen car for confirming forged shipping bills and export documents to help a company evade customs duty, resulting in a loss to the tune of Rs. 4.72 crore to the exchequer during the period.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal