Nearly three weeks after the Election Commission asked the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to lodge criminal complaints against three IPS officers and a state police officer for engaging in “unauthorised and unaccounted cash contributions” during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission on Tuesday held a meeting with the state’s Chief Secretary to get an update about the status of the case.
The Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) “apprised the Commission on the action initiated by Economic Offence Wing, Madhya Pradesh, in the direction issued by ECI in the matter concerning action on the report of CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) on extensive use of unaccounted cash in the election process during Lok Sabha General Elections, 2019”, according to sources in the Election Commission.
The Chief Secretary “informed that the agency has registered PE (Preliminary Enquiry) in the matter” and “sought two weeks’ time to apprise the Commission of further action in the matter”, according to sources.
The four police officers’ alleged involvement in illegal money transfers was reportedly uncovered after aides of then Chief Minister Kamal Nath were searched during simultaneous raids at 52 places by the Income Tax Department on April 7, 2019. Those searched included Nath’s former OSD Pravin Kakkar, adviser Rajendra Miglani, Ashwani Sharma, executives linked to his brother-in-law’s firm Moser Baer, a company of his nephew Ratul Puri, and others.
Based on a report by CBDT in 2019, the ECI had recommended a CBI inquiry into the matter. On December 16 last year, it said that after deliberating on the CBDT’s findings it has decided to ask the MP home department to initiate “appropriate departmental action” against the IPS officers – Sushobhan Banerjee, Sanjay Mane and V Madhu Kumar. It also asked the MP chief secretary to undertake “similar action” against state police service officer Arun Mishra.
EC sources had mentioned that the CBDT report mentioned that Banerjee, a 1989 batch IPS officer, was allegedly involved in unaccounted for cash transactions of Rs 25 lakh. Mane, also of the same batch, had Rs 30 lakh’s contribution against his name in a diary recovered from people raided by the I-T department last year. Kumar was allegedly involved in payments worth Rs 12.5 crore.
CBDT had said in April 2019 that “searches in Madhya Pradesh have detected widespread and well-organised racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore through various persons in different walks of life, including business, politics and public service.”
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