Paving the way for their trial in a case of alleged trafficking 8 persons to Germany in 2005,a Delhi court on Friday framed charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption against an IFS officer and three others.
Special CBI Judge Kanwaljeet Arora said there was prima facie evidence that accused Rakesh Kumar,former Director General (DG) of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR),had obtained pecuniary advantage and “sexual gratification” to facilitate trafficking of 8 persons to Berlin by empanelling “bogus” cultural group ‘Mehak Punjab Di’.
“All four of you,accused Rakesh Kumar being a public servant while working as DG,(ICCR),accused Shiv Kumar Sharma,a draftsman working with Punjab Agricultural University,accused Balwinder Kaur,a local Punjabi singer and accused Gurbej Singh,a constable working with Punjab Armed Police along with Hargulab Singh (who turned approver) on or about March,2005 onwards,had entered into a criminal conspiracy by having agreed to do an illegal act of human trafficking for sending eight persons that too on government expenses,” the court said.
CBI had alleged that Kumar,as an officer of Indian Foreign Services (IFS) had in 2005 facilitated the empanelling of a bogus cultural group ‘Mehak Punjab Di’ to illegally traffic eight persons to Berlin on government expenses.
The officer had approved a team of 15 members,comprising inexperienced and untrained Punjabi folk dancers,to Germany on government sponsorship before his transfer from ICCR,the chargesheet said.
The court also found prima facie evidence of cheating,forgery,criminal conspiracy and using as genuine a forged document against Kumar,Sharma,Balwinder and Singh.
After all the accused refused to plead guilty,CBI judge Arora said the trial would start from July 17.
Earlier,CBI had filed the chargesheet against Kumar,a 1972 batch IFS officer,and others on the charge of conspiring to send people abroad on false pretext.
Framing corruption charges against Kumar,the court said in its order that he had abused his official position as a public servant and sent the members to Germany on September 12,2005,by creating a false requirement.
“Knowing that a number of members of the group were not genuine artists and would defect after reaching Germany,which they did,and you have thereby committed an offence of ‘criminal misconduct’ punishable under section 13(2) read with section 13 (1) (d) of prevention of corruption,” it said.
CBI had said Sharma,a co-accused,allegedly acted as a conduit and took lakhs of rupees for sending the people abroad.
The investigating agency had registered a case against Kumar in March,2005,when he was Special Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
The court also said Kumar has facilitated the visit of members to Germany on “government expenses” and thereby has caused a “wrongful loss” to the exchequer.
“…thereby causing wrongful loss to the government of India to the tune of Rs 5.09 lakhs towards airfares,Rs 1.5 lakhs towards D.A. and Rs 28,096 towards hotel accommodation,and have thereby committed an offence of cheating…,” the court said.
It said that in order to achieve the objective of criminal conspiracy,Kumar and Sharma had instigated and abetted with the co-accused Balwinder to forge supporting documents,showing fake performance of the Bhangra group.
The judge further said Sharma and Singh later used those forged documents as genuine.