A three-member committee probing the veracity of a leaked audio clip in which senior Maharashtra bureaucrat Radheshyam Mopalwar is heard allegedly discussing a bribe has indicated the audio appears to be “edited”, sources privy to its findings said.
In August, Mopalwar was removed as the managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation after the audio clip surfaced. The committee submitted its report to the state government on Thursday. The report also hinted that the allegations against Mopalwar levelled by a Thane-based detective, Satish Mangle, were “unsubstantiated”.
Former Chief Secretary, Johnny Joseph, who headed the committee, said: “The report is now with the government and it is up to it to decide the future course of action. I won’t be in the position to dwell upon the findings of the committee.”
A senior official privy to the details, but spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “In the first part of the leaked audio, Mopalwar is referring to his relative and subsequently he speaks about money that needs to be collected from the relative. He then goes on to talk about a land deal and is heard seeking Rs 1 crore and making reference of money to be paid at the state secretariat. However, the land parcel discussed in the conversation is in Borivli in western suburban Mumbai and cannot be linked to the Samruddhi Corridor project (which Mopalwar was supervising) which starts from Bhiwandi and connects Nagpur. All these conversations appear to be disjointed but are strung together to make it sound as one seamless audio clip.”
The committee’s report aso includes the findings of the Mumbai forensic science laboratory that investigated the samples submitted by the committee. Sources said the forensic report states that while the voice in the tape is Mopalwar’s, the audio clip may be edited with certain “deletions and additions”, thus casting a doubt on its “integrity”.
“The committee failed to submit the conversations recorded by the detective. It had submitted samples taken from news channels. Since the samples were not from the original source, the report could not be conclusive,” said another senior official. The committee never took the original audio clips from Mangle.
The voluminous report also includes the statement of Mopalwar defending himself. It also includes the statements of the panchas who were present while the committee collected the voice samples of Mopalwar and the detective Mangle.
Earlier this month, both Mangle and his second wife Shraddha were arrested by the Thane police in connection with a complaint filed by Mopalwar who has accused the couple of blackmailing and demanding Rs 10 crore from him. “The mandate of the probe was to investigate the audio clips that were played on TV channels and therefore the audio clips played on news channels were taken,” said the official when asked as to why the committee did not collect the CDs from the complainant.
After an uproar in the monsoon session of the state legislature, the government constituted the three-member committee to verify the authenticity of the recordings and to probe whether the corruption charges could be linked to Mopalwar, who was at the helm of the Rs 46,000-crore Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor project.
The other two members of the committee were Additional Commissioner of Police R D Shinde and Deputy Commissioner of Police Parag Manere. The committee has been convening meetings at its south Mumbai office.
The terms of reference for the committee was to examine the authenticity of the audio clip, CD and representations and suggest further action, examine whether there was a link between the allegations with the work done by Mopalwar in MSRDC in relation to the Samruddhi Corridor and similar projects handled by him, and examine the facts whether Mopalwar is an accused of the CBI and is on bail.
“On the point of the CBI inquiry against Mopalwar, we did not find that he was an accused in their case,” said the official