Bhawana Pandey, arrested by the CBI along with retired High Court judge I M Quddusi and four others in a case of alleged judicial corruption involving a blacklisted Lucknow college, was also arrested 16 years ago by the CBI in a case of alleged corruption along with B P Verma, former chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs.
Described as an associate of Quddusi by CBI, Bhawana (46) was granted interim bail on September 27, six days after their arrest on September 21. She moved an application stating that she was a single mother whose child needed attention — she lives in Greater Kailash in New Delhi. Quddusi too was granted bail the same day.
In 2001, Bhawana was arrested along with Verma and his son by CBI in connection with a case of receiving bribes for favours shown to an export house. They were granted bail later. But she was not named in the chargesheet filed in the case. Her lawyer declined comment but her brother Srikant Pandey (33), who lives in the family home in Haldwani, told The Indian Express Monday that his sister was “framed” in the 2001 case.
“She had to struggle all her life and is struggling even today. Having left the house to earn a living at a young age in a city like Delhi made her aggressive and blunt in her approach towards people, and it was used by people, especially politicians. She struggled to make her living there,” he said.
According to Srikant, he and his sister are \directors in Karuna Consultants Private Limited and secured two mining leases in Uttar Pradesh two years ago. “She even tried exports. But recently, there were these two mining leases that we got in UP,” he said.
The fourth of nine children, Bhawana gave up studies and left home when she was 18. Srikant said she worked at a relative’s factory in Rampur but moved to Delhi after a few years where she worked at different places including a garments shop. He said his sister was the mother of a six-year-old boy. “When she was arrested (in September this year), I had to go to Delhi to take care of the child, but it is not the same. It is difficult for me to understand his needs and understand him like she does,” Srikant said. “She was never officially part of any political party but was used by them because she was aggressive and blunt,” he said.
CBI officers claimed Bhawana switched loyalties from the Congress to Samajwadi Party, built a wide network and accumulated considerable wealth. The current raids have also returned the spotlight to a 2014 sting video where she and Quddusi are heard negotiating with a person regarding a court case on diesel cars. According to CBI officers, her rise in Delhi was meteoric after she came in contact with politicians.