Three days after the arrest of an IRS officer, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Rajasthan Police is set to lodge an FIR against him for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his income.
According to senior ACB officials, Sahi Ram Meena, who was first posted as a customs appraiser in 1989 and became an IRS officer in 1997, accumulated properties worth more than Rs 100 crore.
Following Meena’s arrest on January 26, searches at his residences in Jaipur and Kota led to seizure of documents of more than 100 plots, marriage gardens, petrol pumps, heavy trucks and farmlands registered in his name and that of his family members, ACB officials said. That, along with the recovery of Rs 2.26 crore unaccounted money in cash, has made his arrest one of the biggest catches in the history of the ACB in the state.
“We had received information that Meena, who was posted at the Narcotics Bureau in Kota, would take bribes from licensed opium cultivators. He got this posting two years ago, when Meena was transferred to Kota from Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh. We have reason to believe that at the time of his arrest, his daily income from illegal activities amounted to several lakhs of rupees,” Additional Director General of Police, ACB, Saurabh Srivastava, told The Indian Express.
Hours before Meena was arrested by the ACB for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh, he had presided over the Republic Day function in his office, hoisted the Tricolour and given a speech on righteousness and values.
“We recovered a diary where Meena would jot down details of money from bribes he received. He later lent this money to other people on interest. At the time of his arrest, apart from the Rs 1 lakh bribe that he took, we found several lakhs of rupees in a bag. We also learnt that Meena wanted to contest the Lok Sabha elections and was in touch with several political parties,” said an ACB official.
Meena is a PhD holder and has authored books, including one on tax reforms.
“We intercepted his phone, leading to his arrest. A day before he was arrested, we heard Meena telling the middleman ‘I have to hoist the flag tomorrow and then we can do your work’. By ‘work’, he meant receiving the bribe,” said Srivastava.
In the statement of immovable property return (IPR) filed by Meena for 2018, he mentioned a house along with 32 bigha land in his native Sawai Madhopur district, which has been declared common property of the members of the joint family acquired by inheritance. In the IPR statement, Meena also mentioned two plots in Jaipur, which is less than what the searches on his houses have revealed about property owned by him.
After his arrest, jewellery worth approximately Rs 24 lakh was recovered from a bank locker in Jaipur owned by his family members.