Monday, Nov 24, 2014

CBI opens inquiry into CNG fitness certificate scam

Written by Shalini Narayan | New Delhi | Posted: January 18, 2014 2:49 am

The CBI has initiated a preliminary inquiry against unknown government officials in the CNG fitness scam after receiving a complaint that the Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) had tried to close the case citing an order from the Lieutenant-Governor that no charges were found against senior officials of the Delhi government.

The preliminary inquiry was ordered earlier this month (January 7) and the matter was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday.

In a letter to the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), CBI said it has learnt that some Delhi government officials, in order to show undue favour to accused persons in the CNG fitness scam, had forwarded the request of the ACB to the L-G along with certain “fake and fabricated documents”, to undermine its investigation.

The letter stated that these documents were not even part of the ACB records nor were the same provided to the L-G.
“Having considered these fake documents arranged by government officials with vested interests, the competent authority (L-G) declined sanction for prosecution,” the letter stated.

This, prima facie, disclosed misconduct on the part of unknown Delhi government officials and warranted a preliminary inquiry, the CBI’s letter to the ACB stated.

The CNG fitness scam surfaced in 2006 when the ACB said that two companies — ESP India Pvt Ltd and ESP USA — did not have any links with each other and that ESP India was formed in 2006 with “dishonest intentions”.
It is estimated that the scam cost the government exchequer nearly Rs 100 crore. After a preliminary inquiry, the ACB registered a case on December 17, 2012.

According to the FIR, the government lost crores by awarding the contract of operation and maintenance of I&C lanes (Inspection and Certification) at Burari to ESP India Pvt Ltd instead of ESP USA, which had been given the job through tendering.

The company — ESP India — did not conduct certain tests it was required to, but still charged for these tests. Eight more lanes worth Rs 7 crore were allotted to the company without calling for tenders. The FIR says the contract was renewed “to give undue benefits and illegal financial gains to ESP India”. Four persons were arrested in this scam.

In a recent move, Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung cleared all eight officials named in the scam stating that after careful consideration of the facts and material on record, no case was made out under Prevention of Corruption Act.
The ACB wrote to Jung saying the documents produced before him were manipulated and that the case needed to be properly investigated.

Subsequently, Jung ordered the matter closed.

However, the ACB replied saying the matter could not be closed since the matter was sub judice and was under investigation. A day before the formation of the new government under Arvind Kejriwal, the DoV said the LG’s order was sacrosanct.

However, based on a complaint by advocate Subodh Jain that the ACB was being pressurised, CBI has decided to inquire into the matter.

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