The CBI registered an FIR on Wednesday against unknown officials of the Cabinet Secretariat and Special Frontier Force and three directors of Sai Baba Builders and Consultants, a private firm linked to former defence contractor Shambhu Prasad Singh, for alleged irregularities in supply of high-altitude pre-fabricated shelters to the SFF, a unit of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).
Singh was named political attache to V K Singh, Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region, for Ghaziabad from where the former Army chief was elected to Lok Sabha this year.
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According to the CBI, the case was registered on the basis of a complaint it received recently from a Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. As reported in The Indian Express, the CBI had received a reference from the PMO seeking a probe into the alleged irregularities.
The CBI claimed that repeated favours resulted in undue gain of Rs 21.6 crore to suppliers of the the pre-fabricated shelters. In the FIR, the CBI named three directors of Sai Baba Builders and Consultants — S P Singh’s wife Manjari, Shyam Sunder Bhatter and J P N Singh, but agency officials said S P Singh too was “very much under the scanner”.
Searches were conducted at homes and offices in three locations in Delhi and NCR, including S P Singh’s house, and another in Kolkata where J P N Singh lives.
Hours after the searches, S P Singh alleged that an arms lobby was targeting him to tarnish his political mentor.
He claimed that the contract went to his estranged wife and he had nothing to do with it. He also sought an investigation against a “high ranking army official” for his alleged role in the case under probe.
“You need to investigate who was in charge of SFF during the relevant period. Today, the same officer is holding a high position in one of the defence services,” he told The Indian Express.
“I am not associated with these companies. I have clarified in the past also. If my estranged wife for 15 years got a contract, how am I a beneficiary,” S P Singh said.
Two companies under the CBI scanner are Dynamic Shells and Sai Baba Builders. Records of Dynamic Shells with the Registrar of Companies show that S P Singh has been director from 2007. When his comments were sought, he said: “I had checked it. I resigned long ago and it has not been updated.”
The CBI allegations against unknown officials of the Cabinet Secretariat and SFF pertain to tweaking of tender conditions, cartelisation of firms bidding for the contracts, supplying forged documents to secure contracts and not providing bank guarantees.
The irregularities are alleged to have taken place between 2009 and 2013, with contracts worth Rs 3.96 crore secured by the firm between 2009-11 and worth Rs 17.6 crore between 2010-13.
“The tender conditions for supply of pre-fabricated shelters for SFF at high altitude locations was tweaked to favour firms Sai Baba Builders and Consultants, Rockside Impex, and Dynamic Shells. Since these firms had common directors, there was also an aspect of cartelisation to secure the contracts. The as yet unknown public servants also gave favourable inspection reports to favour the suppliers,” a CBI source said.
“Investigations are on to ascertain any quid pro quo in the awarding of the contracts, and the public servants involved,” said the source.
CBI officials said that the agency has two prior cases against S P Singh. A disproportionate assets case was registered against him in 2002 when he was serving as Additional Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers. The trial is on in the case, with the next hearing slated for November 22.
The CBI also registered a case against him after Dynamic Shells allegedly provided bogus documents to a bank for bank guarantee in securing contracts for supplying pre-fabricated shelters to Assam Rifles.
In May 2013, the Delhi Police EOW arrested S P Singh and Bhatter for allegedly submitting fake bank guarantees and audit reports to try and swing a contract from Assam Rifles.