CBI arrests Kejriwal’s principal secretary, four others, draws furious AAP reaction

Reacting furiously to Kumar’s arrest, AAP leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “hatching a conspiracy to paralyse the Delhi government”.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: July 5, 2016 11:32 am
arvind kejriwal, rajendra kumar, principal secretary, kejriwal, corruption, cbi, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal's principal secretaty arrested, Rajender Kumar arrested, Delhi Secratariat, Modi government, india news Rajendra Kumar was earlier questioned at the CBI headquarters. (Express archive)

THE AAP on Monday said the Centre was trying to “paralyse” its government in Delhi, after the CBI arrested Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar and four others, including the CM’s Deputy Secretary Tarun Sharma, in connection with an alleged Rs 50-crore scam linked to various contracts.

The CBI alleged that Kumar was the “kingpin” of the alleged scam conducted between 2006 and 2014, when he held various positions in the Delhi government, and for which bribes worth at least Rs 3.3 crore was paid to various people. In all, the scam caused a loss of Rs 12 crore to the Delhi government, the CBI alleged.

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Reacting furiously to Kumar’s arrest, AAP leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “hatching a conspiracy to paralyse the Delhi government”.

”The Centre is afraid now… Modi ji nafrat aur gusse ki wajah se Delhi ko barbaad karna chahte hain (Modi ji wants wants to destroy Delhi due to hatred and anger),” said Sisodia, citing the transfers of 11 senior officers in the last two days.

The CBI had registered a case of corruption in December 2015 against Kumar, a 1989-batch IAS officer, and directors of a private software solutions company linked to the award of government contracts worth over Rs 9.5 crore in alleged violation of rules and “through abuse of position”.

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The agency had also conducted searches at 14 locations then, including at the office of Kumar, leading to a verbal spat between AAP and the BJP-led government at the Centre, with Kejriwal calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a coward and a psychopath”.

Apart from Kumar and Sharma, who was the assistant director of Delhi’s VAT department during the time of the alleged scam, the CBI also arrested Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Gupta, both directors of Endeavour Systems Pvt Ltd (ESPL), which bagged the contracts currently being probed, and Ashok Kumar, an alleged aide of Rajendra Kumar.

According to CBI, investigators found that ESPL was allegedly a “front company” floated by Rajendra Kumar in 2006, along with his “schoolmate” Ashok Kumar.

CBI sources said arrested accused Ashok Kumar and Sandeep Kumar had long-time relations with Rajendra Kumar. “While Ashok was a schoolmate, he was also an office superintendent in the education department when Rajendra Kumar was director there. Ashok Kumar’s friend Dinesh Gupta was a supplier of stationery to the Delhi government. Sandeep Kumar was a programmer who once worked for the Delhi education department. All these people, along with Rajendra Kumar, floated ESPL with Sandeep and Dinesh Gupta as directors in November 2006,” a senior CBI officer said.

CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said, “The CBI has today arrested five persons, including a senior civil servant, government of Delhi; another official of the Delhi government, two then directors of a Delhi-based private company and a private person in an ongoing investigation of a case. The allegations relate to bribery and abuse of official position by the said senior civil servant and others to favour a Delhi-based private company in award of contracts of the Delhi government.”

In its FIR, the CBI has invoked charges of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and of criminal misconduct by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Rajendra Kumar and six others, including Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Kumar in its FIR.

In its FIR, CBI had put five contracts awarded by him under the scanner. The other accused in the FIR include former and current managing directors of ICSIL — A K Duggal, G K Nanda and R S Kaushik. It was through ICSIL that many contracts were allegedly awarded to ESPL, claimed CBI. ESPL has also been named as an accused firm in the FIR.

Providing what it claimed were alleged details of the main charges, CBI officers said that the sequence started in March 2007, when Rajendra Kumar, as IT secretary in the Delhi government, floated a proposal that ICSIL be empanelled for purchase of hardware and software.

In December 2007, as chief managing director of Delhi Transco Ltd, Rajendra Kumar brought in Sandeep Kumar as a consultant for a management information system (MIS) without following due process, the agency alleged. “He even cancelled the ad looking for consultants,” a CBI officer claimed.

Further, the CBI alleged that “no fair tendering” was followed in the award of any of the contracts and in a project given to ICSIL, which was further sub-contracted to ESPL, two forged quotations were obtained and Rs 87 lakh spent.

Elaborating on the alleged deal, the CBI officer claimed that Rajendra Kumar also shelved a payroll system worth Rs 3.5 lakh run by CDAC Noida for Delhi Transco and implemented a new system for Rs 47 lakh.

“Rajendra Kumar put pressure on ICSIL to get ESPL as an agency to maintain the payroll platform. In this two forged quotations were floated and ESPL was given a contract of Rs 40 lakh,” the officer alleged.

He also claimed that two months before the contract was awarded to ESPL, Rajendra Kumar had floated a proposal, in August 2009, to change the tech platform of payroll and shift it to SAP.

“For SAP, Rajendra Kumar gave a contract of Rs 21 crore to NICSI, a PSU, which further sublet the project to Seal Infotech, the authorised vendor of SAP. Rajendra Kumar put pressure on Seal to pay bribes worth Rs 1.7 crore to ESPL in the form of fictitious software purchases,” the officer claimed.

Detailing another charge, CBI claimed that when Rajendra Kumar became health secretary, he allegedly received an email from Ashok Kumar saying that there was scope of creating 16 posts in the department “just as we have done in other departments”.

He allegedly made a chart of required qualifications and remunerations for the posts and sent it to Rajendra Kumar, CBI officers alleged. “This was simply copied by Rajendra Kumar and sent as requirement to ICSIL, which gives the Rs 2.43 crore contract to ESPL without any tendering process,” claimed CBI officers.

CBI officers alleged that “the most brazen of violations” was committed when Rajendra Kumar assumed office as commissioner in the trade and taxes department. At the time, sources alleged, the department was using a VAT tech platform based on Oracle and developed at a cost of Rs 12 crore.

The CBI claimed that following an exchange of emails between Rajendra Kumar, Sandeep Kumar and Tarun Sharma, who had also joined the department, a proposal to bring in a new software — Microsoft Dynamics — was floated.

ESPL bagged the project even though it did not participate in the tender floated by ICSIL, alleged CBI sources, claiming that a “bribe of Rs 2.2 lakh was paid by a vendor to ESPL”. The contract for maintenance of this software also went to ESPL.

“Rajendra Kumar asked ICSIL to find a new company in place of CMC which was then maintaining the VAT platform. ICSIL opened a tender for just one day. Only one company applied and qualified: ESPL. A contract worth Rs 77 lakh was given to it,” a CBI officer said.

Following this, CBI sources said, as the Centre pushed to standardise VAT across the country, Rajendra Kumar played a role in floating “a tailormade tender where a technical specification was added that only those with some experience on Microsoft Dynamics would get the project”. “The award of the contract went to ESPL for Rs 4.87 crore,” said the officer.

The corruption case was registered based on a complaint from former Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) member Ashish Joshi to the Delhi Police Anti-Corruption bureau (ACB) this year. The complaint was forwarded to CBI in July, following which the agency registered an FIR after a five-month probe. Joshi had earlier been removed from DDC after he engaged in a spat with its vice-chairman and senior AAP leader Ashish Khaitan.

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