The last time IAS officer Niraj Kumar Pawan hit the headlines, it was for stopping by on his way to work to help a road accident victim. This time, the reason is not so noble. The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau Wednesday booked Pawan and four others for receiving bribes to manipulate work orders under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Acting on a complaint it received last December, the ACB raided the residence and offices of Pawan, two other officials and a middleman on Wednesday.
Pawan, currently Commissioner, Agriculture department, allegedly received bribes worth crores when he was Director, NRHM-IEC, through a middleman Ajit Soni. Two other officials — Additional Director Anil Agarwal and Chief Accounts Officer Deepa Gupta — and department store keeper Josy Varghese were also allegedly part of this “racket which continued for at least a year-and-a-half”.
The five have been booked under relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. “Pawan continued to be involved in this racket even after he was transferred,” an ACB source said.
Soni, the middleman, was allegedly at the centre of the scam while Varghese allegedly handled the bribes and “took care of the daily, minor expenses of the officials involved”.
“Soni had virtually become the ‘single-window clearance’ for all work orders under NRHM,” the source said. “If any firm did not pay commission, Soni would use his influence among higher officials to stop payments.”
Pawan allegedly cleared hindrances at the directorate level, including issuing no-objection certificates and removing bureaucratic hurdles, said V K Singh, ACB Inspector General. Pawan could not be reached for comments.