Railway Board orders nation-wide check of non-issue tickets after scam in Hatia

The fraud, running in crores of rupees, hints at susceptibility of UTS to manipulation. Director/Passenger Marketing, Railway Board directs SER General Manager to put 10 staffers, including three supervisory officers, under suspension

RANCHI: Railway Board has ordered a nation-wide check of Non-issue tickets issued from Unreserved Ticket System counters (UTS) after a massive fraud came to light at Hatia Railway Station of Ranchi Division in South Eastern Railway (SER), wherein some employees pocketed crores of rupees by manipulating the system. The severity of the fraud can be gauged that seven employees and three supervisors were suspended directly by Railway Board. Vikram Singh, Director, Passenger Marketing, Railway Board, in communication to General Manager, SER, directed immediate suspension of 10 staffers, identified in the letter, saying the fraud indicates complete collapse of administration system.

The scam was unearthed by Central Ticketing Checking Squad of Railway Board after they found unreserved ticket of high value but with wrong serial numbers. As the Squad dug deep they were aghast as they found was systematic rip off by certain employees by forming a ring. The Board’s communication about suspension is dated August 2, 2017.Among the supervisory officials suspended includes Chief Booking Supervisor, Section Commercial Inspector and Section TIA, few commercial clerk, senior Commercial Clerks, all numbering seven. Among the lower rung staff who were suspended included three ladies. As per details the scam was perpetuated by derailing the system. But the unearthing of fraud also shows the susceptibility of the system to manipulation. The scheme undertaken by perpetrators was so fine that it even escaped detection which is quite intense in the Railways, leaving the supervisory officials in bind.

The modus operandi of the commercial clerks (CC) at UTS counters was that they would first issue print order for value of Rs. 10. However before the printer could start the concerned CC would take off the ribbon due to which the ticket remained blank. This same blank ticket was then reissued but with a higher denomination, ranging in couple of hundred rupees, to the travellers. The system understood that this higher value ticket was printed on second one on the roll. But immediately thereafter the CC would use Not-issue command of same value as that of second UTS ticket for issuing third ticket. The ticket no. 2 and 3 would then be deposited thereby matching the amounts andindicating that all is well with the system and would even escape notice of a seasoned supervisor. Meanwhile, the CC would pocket the amount generated by issuing of first printed ticket of higher value.

Normally, the scam used to be perpetuated when a new roll was attached to the printer. Not-issue command in UTS is normally used in case the CC made a mistake while entering the passengers number, or destination or due to some error. But this same formula came handy for the fruadsters to milk the system.

Rail Ministry to launch Crackdown on Corrupt Officials from August 15

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time and again claimed that corruption has come down since he took charge and that providing graft-free rule is on top of his priority. Now, to further polish its taint-free image, the government is preparing a crackdown on corrupt officials.

According to the notification, the Vigilance Department of Ministry of Railways has been asked to prepare a dossier of tainted and corrupt officials. Accordingly Ministry of Railways is in the process of preparing a dossier of tainted and corrupt officials. The dossier will examine extensively the various kinds of frauds, scandals, bribe seeking, corruption, economic offences & malpractices, financial misconduct, enquiries, investigations and allegations within the system.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. At the Central level, the Home Ministry is preparing the dossier based on service records of the officials.

2. The Home Ministry, as part of its ‘confidential’ communication has written letters to various ministries/departments and all the para military forces and importantly Ministry of Railways (which ranks top in terms of corruption as per CVC) to finish the list by August 5, so that further action is initiated.

3. Dossier of corrupt officials and employees under Ministry of Railways will be based on the complaint, enquiry report and conduct of the officials, moral turpitude, dereliction of duty in protecting the interest of the Government of India. It will also examine whether major or minor penalty was imposed against the particular official or not.

4. List/dossier of corrupt officials will be approved by the competent authority.

5. After the list/dossier is completed, the concerned CVC/Vigilance Departments will keep a watch on such corruption prone officials.

6. Their actions and decisions will be examined to see if they are causing loss not only to the Government revenues but also causing any reputation damage of the government, for personal/nefarious benefits.

7. The list will be sent to CBI and CVC, who will monitor the conduct of tainted officials and keep close watch on such officials and take necessary action to prosecute, or recommend departmental action including major penalty, demotion or even dismissal from service.

8. Sources said once list/dossier is ready action against or crackdown will start after August 15.

RULES TO PROBE CORRUPTION CASES AMENDED

Changing an over 50-year-old rule, the government in June set a deadline of six months to complete probe in corruption cases involving its employees

The decision has been taken to speed up the investigation in such cases, most of them pending for quiet a long time

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has amended Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and decided time-line for critical stages of investigation and enquiry proceedings.

The Inquiring Authority should conclude the inquiry and submit its report within a period of six months, says the amended rules.

However, an extension for a period not exceeding six months at a time may be allowed for any good and sufficient reasons to be recorded in writing by the disciplinary authority, it said.

Earlier, there was no time-frame to complete an enquiry.

IR starts firing officers convicted of corruption – Legal battles by officers for years in CBI Courts prove futile

NEW DELHI: In a first, the Indian Railways has quietly started terminating the services of officers who have been convicted in corruption cases. In the past six months, four senior officers from zonal railways across the country have been removed from service, signalling a new, tough stance that the government will no longer allow convicted officers to continue enjoying salaries and perks while they fight court cases against their conviction.

A list of 30 officers has been prepared at all levels across India, including Joint Secretary grade, who stand convicted by the CBI for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, like taking bribes and possessing assets disproportionate to their income.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently remarked that strict action must be taken against all railway officers under the scanner of the CBI and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

For years, the Indian Railways has been topping the CVC list of corruption complaints against government officers. This year, the list saw a 67 per cent jump with Railways topping the list with 11,000 complaints in the total pool of 49,847 complaints across the government.

P K Jena, a Deputy Chief Engineer from the Indian Railway Civil Engineering cadre from the East Coast Railway, was handling the laying of tracks before his transfer. He was convicted by a CBI court in a disproportionate assets case.

Dr Ravi Kansal, an Assistant Chief Medical Superintendent based in Lucknow and later Amritsar, was convicted of accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 from a railwayman for issuing a “fake” sickness certificate. Dr N Suresh from South Western Railway had a similar case.

Vaibhav Chouhan, a Deputy Chief Personnel Officer from the Indian Railway Personnel Service in West Central Railway, and later shifted to South East Central Railway, was looking after the human resource vertical of a division. He was booked for accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 from a “bungalow peon” to regularise his appointment. The bribe demand, as per the CBI chargesheet, was for Rs 2 lakh.

All these officers had been fighting legal battles for years in CBI courts before their conviction.

In the past one month, notices for removal from service have been served on two civil engineering officers who approached the Central Administrative Tribunal and got the notices stayed. The Railway Board, sources said, was moving fast on their cases. An officer in the North Eastern Railway was removed from service after a departmental probe recommended “major penalty” on a corruption charge.

The Railway Board, sources said, took legal opinion and the official consent of the Union Public Service Commission to arrive at the conclusion that a “stay on arrest” is not acquittal — some officers had got stay on arrest — and these convictions in CBI cases warrant removal from service.

“Let the officers fight their cases in appeals. If they are acquitted eventually, the government may consider giving them their jobs back. But until then, they cannot remain in service… the rules are clear,” a top officer on the Railway Board said.

Prime Minister takes serious view of Corruption in Indian Railways, directs Strictest Action

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a serious view of the “large number of complaints” about “corrupt practices” of Railway officials and directed strictest possible action against those found guilty. He instructed for strengthening of the Vigilance Wings in Railways to nab the corrupt officials. PM also reviewed progress towards handling passenger grievances in Railways.
Prime Minister of India Mr.Narendra Modi chairing eighteenth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a serious view of the “large number of complaints” about “corrupt practices” of Railway officials and directed strictest possible action against those found guilty. He asked the Indian Railways to work towards a unified single telephone number for all grievances and queries, including helpline in the case of an accident. Modi made the comments while reviewing the progress of vital infrastructure projects in the railway, road and power sectors, spread over several states.

Chairing a meeting here of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI), an ICT-based multi-modal platform, he reviewed the progress towards handling and resolution of grievances related to Railways.

“Noting that a large number of complaints were related to corrupt practices of officials, he directed strictest possible action against Railway officials found guilty of corruption,” said a PMO statement. The Prime Minister has been asserting that his government is determined to eliminate corruption.

The projects reviewed today are spread over Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland.

These included the Mumbai Metro, the Tirupati-Chennai Highway, long-pending road projects in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Manipur, and important power transmission lines in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.

Taking stock of the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ for universal immunization of children, the Prime Minister asked for targeted attention in strict timeframes for the 100 worst performing districts in this regard, the PMO said.

He said the youth organizations such as National Cadet Corps and Nehru Yuva Kendra could be involved in the outreach effort to ensure that no child was left without the benefit of immunization.

Reviewing the implementation of Swachhta Action Plans, Modi said that events such as Swachhta fortnights should be converted into movements towards permanent solutions.

On the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Mission, the Prime Minister asked officials to quantify and document the gains achieved through the use of latest technology, such as LED bulbs, so that the benefits could be better appreciated by one and all.

The Prime Minister also urged all Secretaries of the Government of India, and all Chief Secretaries of states, to come up with concrete plans and objectives for transformative change, to be achieved by the 75th anniversary of independence in 2022.

With regard to cleanliness, he urged for maximum efforts ahead of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary by 2019, the statement said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired his eighteenth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. Here are the highlights:

* PM Modi reviews progress towards handling and resolution of grievances related to Railways.
* PM calls for strictest possible action against Railway officials found guilty of corruption.
* PM Modi reviews the progress of vital infrastructure projects in the railway, road and power sectors.
* PM asks for targeted attention in strict timeframes for the 100 worst performing districts.

CBI registers Graft Case against Railway Official for demanding Rs.20 lakh bribe

The official received Rs 6 lakh as illegal gratification from the Contractor.

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against North Eastern Railway official Alok Singh for allegedly demanding Rs 20 lakh from an advertiser.

The CBI has alleged in its FIR that then chief public relations officer Singh indulged in corrupt practices.

It is alleged that Singh demanded the bribe from Shiv Shankar Tiwari whose advertising firm was empanelled with NER, Gorakhpur, to let him continue his business with Railways.

He received Rs 6 lakh as illegal gratification from Tiwari, the FIR alleged.

The agency has registered the FIR under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act against Singh and Tiwari.

The FIR, based on “reliable” inputs received by the CBI, alleged that Tiwari also arranged two plots in Lucknow measuring 2500 sq ft in the name of his mother.

Tiwari allegedly paid Rs 6 lakh to the coloniser as advance and paid Rs 2.50 lakh in instalments through five cheques drawn from his wife’s account, the FIR said.

While three cheques worth Rs 1.50 lakh were cleared, two cheques could not be cleared because of insufficient account balance, it alleged.

When Tiwari could not complete the demand of Rs 20 lakh, his firm was empanelled for further business with the railways, the FIR alleged.

It alleged that the pending bills of Tiwari’s firm were destroyed in “mysterious” fire in the railway office and payments were blocked in the absence of the bills.

However, they were released after intervention of senior officers.

Cops arrest railway employee while taking bribe, recovers Rs 50000/-

Yet in another incident, Haryana police has arrested a Stenographer deployed in the office of Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Jaipur division while accepting a bribe of Rs 50000 as cash for Railway job.

Identified as Jagdish Kumar, the accused stenographer was caught in the trap laid by a team of Rewari police headed by DSP Jamal Khan. DSP said that accused was arrested on Sunday and he has been remanded to judicial custody.

According to information, action against Jagdish was consequent to complaint lodged by Trilok Chand, a resident of Rewari who hails from Dausa district of Rajsthan.

Trilok said that one of his friend’s son was aspirant of getting an employment in railway. He came in contact with Jagdish and latter assured the employment and a deal was struck for Rs 4 lakh.

According to deal, Rs 50000 was to be paid in cash while rest was to be paid through cheque, The place of meeting was fixed for Sunday. Meanwhile police was informed who gave the signed currency to lay the trap.

Police said that Railway authorities have also been informed.

After Jessop list, Railways to keep raw material, auction off the rest

KOLKATA: Once the representatives of Jessop, BHEL and the railways – as directed by a court order – prepare an inventory of the articles inside the Jessop factory, the railways will keep the raw material and auction off the rest.

“The money collected will be kept in a fund,” a source said.

CID officials pointed out that the auction should be carried out at the earliest as the Jessop authorities might not take any step for the safekeeping of the stock at the material. CID sources insisted that the fresh questioning of Ruia Group chairman Pawan Ruia led them to identify a few people to whom some Jessop officials sold off certain items as scrap. “Ruia is still not co-operating. But we have certain leads. At present, we are carrying out a financial audit of Jessop through external agencies. If we find that these scrap sales were not entered into company accounts officially, we might question some of the buyers,” a CID official said.

The audit completed so far showed that the PSU, Jessop & Company , was in dire straits. For Jessop, the oldest engineering firm in India, life had come to a full circle with the state government taking over the management on February 27, 2016. Jessop, known for its construction of the Howrah Bridge, Parliament House and the first EMU coach in India (in 1959, before the Integral Coach Factory) became sick and was referred to Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in 1995. By 2003, Jessop had a negative net worth of Rs 358 crore and that, perhaps, led to the strategic divestment decision of the company in August 2003.Ruia Cotex of the Pawan Ruiacontrolled Ruia Group bought controlling stake in Jessop for a paltry sum of Rs 18.18 crore. After that, things started looking up for Jessop for some time.

A former director of the Ruia Group said Jessop inherited orders for wagons and Rs 10 crore that was lying with Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Ltd, then holding firm of Jessop. “The first three-four years were good. But things deteriorated as the promoter lost interest,” a former director said.

CID investigating Jessop Factory account books

Sources in the CID said Ruia — who was arrested in New Delhi on Saturday — had not been giving “relevant” answers during interrogation.

West Bengal CID arrests Industrialist Pawan Ruia on Indian Railways complaint. The Ruia Group chairman was summoned by the CID four times in the past in this connection

Kolkata: The CID on Tuesday started tallying Ruia Group’s Jessop factory’s balance sheet with the statements made by Pawan Kumar Ruia, its owner.

Sources in the CID said Ruia — who was arrested in New Delhi on Saturday — had not been giving “relevant” answers during interrogation. “Now, we are questioning him, keeping all possible documents as evidence. He has also been interrogated on the basis the statements made by the CEO of Jessop factory, Askhok Agarwal, who has also been arrested in the case,” said an official.

“Ruia is a chartered accountant and hence, we interrogated him on audit reports,” he added.

The Calcutta High Court had set up a committee to take stock of the equipment belonging to the Railways Ministry at the Jessop factory on December 16. Officials are likely to take Ruia along to reconstruct how equipment were lifted and taken out of the premises, said sources.

“We will be checking stock of Railway properties on Thursday. Authorities from the Railways and police would also be there with us. We will visit and scrutinise each part of the factory and then submit a report,” said a panel member. Agency officials hope to get “some good lead” in the case.

North-24 Parganas district magistrate, ADG (CID) and director stores (Railway) would be part of the inspection team.

Ruia was arrested on the basis of a complaint that the Railways Ministry had filed at the Dum Dum police station, alleging that its inspection team had found several equipment and coaches worth Rs 50 crore missing from the factory.

Ruia’s firm had a Railways contract to build air-conditioned rakes.

Railways threaten action against officials ‘critical’ of Govt policy

Railway servants have been warned against criticism of the government in messages/chats on various social media, including their closed user groups. They would else have to face disciplinary action.

Stung by criticism of the government’s policies by civil servants, the railways ministry has struck back by threatening disciplinary action against those found guilty.

While railways minister Suresh Prabhu has actively been promoting the use of social media to further the government’s agenda, the ministry seems to have realised that such platforms are double-edged weapons that could be – and were – being used to slam government policies.

“The cavalier and freewheeling manner of the criticism of government policies by the rail bureaucracy is unacceptable. Therefore, the need to reiterate the Service Conduct Rules of 1966, which prohibit officials from making any adverse criticism of the current or recent policy or action of the central or state government,” a senior ministry official said.

“It has come to notice that railway servants are indulging in messages/chats on various social media, including their closed user groups (CUG), which tantamount to criticism of the government. Under Rule 9 of the Railway Service Conduct Rules of 1966, this is not permitted. Any violation of the above will render the employees liable for disciplinary action,” the railways said in its circular of August 30.

“It is a fact that officials have increasingly been articulating opinions, mainly in closed groups on social media platforms. But the government clearly seems to be overreacting. Individual lives cannot be controlled in such as a manner,” a senior ministry official said.

Federation of Railway Officers Association (FROA) general secretary RN Singh is not alarmed by what he describes as a “routine circular”.

“The service conduct rules have merely been reiterated, as past governments have also done. This does not mean that merit-based criticism of the government policies cannot be done by associations or federations,” he said.

“Placing curbs on mindless criticism of government policies is fine. Several employees have developed the habit of forwarding or pressing ‘likes’ of adverse comments against the government. While this cannot be permitted, meaningful criticism of the government’s policies has to remain,” said Shiva Gopal Mishra of the All India Railway Men Federation (AIRF).

14-day CID remand for Ruia for setting afire Jessop plant

Kolkata: Jessop owner Pawan Kumar Ruia was remanded in CID custody for 14 days by a court in Barrackpore today after the investigative agency slapped additional charges on him, including criminal conspiracy and destruction of important documents by allegedly setting fire to a portion of his factory.

Public prosecutor Pallab Chowdhury said in his submission that the fire in October was a deliberate act with an intention to destroy documents related to Jessop’s business deal with the Indian Railways. “Five almirahs stashed with the documents were gutted,” Chowdhury said while opposing Ruia’s bail plea.

Ruia, arrested on Saturday at his Delhi residence, was brought to the city early today.

CID sleuths had entered Ruia’s bungalow by tailing a team of florists assigned to decorate the property for the industrialist’s birthday celebrations that evening.

The police had registered a suo motu complaint at Dum Dum police station after the fire at Jessop. The railways filed a separate case at the same police station, accusing Ruia of cheating the organisation of Rs 49.8 crore.

Ruia’s lawyer Ayan Bhattacharya said his client had been falsely charged. He said the FIR was against Jessop and Company Ltd, not Ruia. “He (Ruia) resigned from the post of director of Jessop in 2008 and the board of directors accepted his resignation. The registrar of companies was also informed. Ruia is not even a stakeholder in Jessop,” Bhattacharya said.

But public prosecutor Chowdhury said: “He (Ruia) is the chairman of Ruia Group and he was at the helm of the of Jessop’s daily affairs.”

Pak Railways hit by Rs 16 billion Signalling System scam

Despite investing heavily, Pakistan still rely on a sinalling system from the colonial era. Two recent accidents in Punjab province, in which nine people were killed and over 150 injured, were reportedly caused by “out-dated signalling systems

pak-rlys-signaling-scamLahore: Pakistan Railways has been hit by a Rs 16-billion scam relating to replacement of its colonial-era signalling system with a modern system, according to an internal audit report that has forced the government to probe a consortium of Bombardier Transport and Chinese company.

Despite investing heavily, Pakistan still rely on a sinalling system from the colonial era. Two recent accidents in Punjab province, in which nine people were killed and over 150 injured, were reportedly caused by “out-dated signalling systems”.

According to the Internal Audit Report, two projects to update the signalling systems were awarded to a consortium of Bombardier Transport and China Railways Signal and Communication Corporation (BT-CRSC) in 2008-09.

“The project cost had swelled to Rs 16 billion till 2014. The incumbent administration under Khawaja Saad Rafique, Railways Minister, allocated additional Rs 7 billion but the projects could not be completed,” the report said.

The report has recommended sending the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for criminal proceedings against the contractor and officials responsible for the fraud.

Interestingly, the minister completely ignored the 98-page audit report and allocated the additional Rs 7 billion for the projects in violation of prescribed rules.

“We are looking into the matter and refer it to the NAB for investigation,” a government official said. “All those responsible for fraud in the signalling system projects will be taken to task,” he added.

More than 400 train accidents has happened since Rafique took over in mid 2013, according to the railways record. In most cases the railways’ chief has blamed drivers for the tragedies.

The driver involved with last week’s collision between a passenger and a freight train claimed that the signal was green and hence the confusion led to the accident.

“Critical infrastructure – especially tracks and the signalling system – cannot be left unattended and must be constantly monitored and maintained to avoid such accidents.

Some of the infrastructure damaged in Sindh in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s 2007 assassination still awaits repair,” an official said.

An editorial in the Dawn newspaper on the issue has suggested to the Nawaz Sharif government to learn from India.

“We can learn from India with whom we share a common colonial Railways’ heritage. The authorities there have managed to install an automated signalling system on most of the main lines. Considering the commonalities, perhaps our Railways’ authorities can study our eastern neighbour’s model,” the editorial said.

Most graft complaints against Railways, Banks: Report

CVC RailwaysNew Delhi: Railways has topped a list of government organisations against which complaints of alleged corruption -over 12,000 – were received by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) during last year.

As many as 12,394 complaints of alleged corruption were received against railway employees followed by 5,363 against bank officials and 5,139 against Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, the CVC said in its annual report for 2014 which was tabled in Parliament recently.

A total of 4,986 such complaints were received against officials working under Finance Ministry, 3,379 against those in Telecommunication Ministry and 3,079 against employees working under Urban Development Ministry, it said.

These were among the total of 56,104 complaints of alleged corruption received by Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs), who act as distant arm of the CVC, of various government departments.

Of the total complaints, 38,192 were disposed of and 17,912 were pending, the report said. Out of the pending complaints, 8,878 were pending for more than six months.

As many as 2,741 complaints were against employees working in Petroleum Ministry, 2,235 against those in Food and Consumer Affairs, 2,084 under Central Board of Direct Taxes, 1,601 in Steel Ministry and 1,460 under Central Board of Excise and Customs, the report said.

There were 1,377 complaints of alleged corruption against employees working under Human Resource Development Ministry, 1,143 against those in Health and Family Welfare Ministry and 1,018 in Information and Broadcasting Ministry, it said.

Similarly, 738 such complaints were received against employees of Department of Posts, 596 under Power Ministry, 527 in Textiles Ministry and 604 in Defence Ministry, the report said.

Recovery of Rs.29000 Crore freight dues from Iron Ore exporters see tardy progress

The Railways have been defrauded of as much as Rs 29,236.77 Crore by Iron Ore exporters claiming domestic tariff on consignments meant for export. CAG Audit report tabled in May 2015 estimated that the Indian Railways can recover Rs. 29,236.77 crore from iron ore exporters. Key investigators who unearthed the evasion abandon task!

iron ore monsters
Investigations have revealed a massive scam by many iron ore miners in defrauding railways to the tune of a few thousand crore rupees by passing off export consignments of ore as meant for domestic consumption

The recovery of over INR 29,000 crore by the Railways from freight-evading iron ore exporters who were feeding the global frenzy for steel during the boom period is floundering, say sources in the Railways and other agencies who have investigated the humongous scandal.

The key investigators who exposed the scandal in the South Eastern Railways have all dispersed from the task, the latest being the principal investigation officer.

A key official in the Railway Board said that the only hope for the recovery — that could dramatically turn around the fortunes of the Railways — now hinges on the Supreme Court.

The developments come even as the Railways have withdrawn the higher freight charges iron ore exporters had to pay under the 2008 policy, which they avoided illegally.

According to sources, the Railways on May 9 issued a freight rate circular, abolishing the dual freight policy in iron ore transportation, eight years after it was implemented.

According to the new circular, the exporters would now only pay the same fare for exporting iron ore out of India as those for domestic manufacturers who use ore to make steel within the country.

A CAG audit report tabled in May 2015 estimated that the Railways could recover INR 29,236.77 crore from the exporters who transported iron ore meant for export on freight charges meant for domestic consumption movements.

The loss estimates were for a period from May 2008 up to September 2013. Those moving iron ore for export had to pay four to five times more than those transporting iron ore for the manufacture of steel within India.

“While the Railways eagerly provided relief to such traders and exporters by abolishing the dual freight regime, they seem to have forgotten that many of them have not paid a single penny from the thousands of crores of rupees in railway freight they evaded during the great iron ore boom period of 2008-2012,” a key official involved in unraveling the scam said.

The massive freight evasion phenomenon first came to light in 2011 during an investigation done by the Vigilance Department of Kolkata-based South Eastern Railway. However, in the past five years the officials who unearthed the scam have all dispersed.

According to sources, SK Sadangi, an IIT and Harvard alumni who unraveled the modus operandi as part of the vigilance department, is now leaving railways on deputation.

Sadangi was also part of the team of experts that assisted Justice M.B.Shah Commission which probed illegal iron ore and manganese mining.

Even as the recovery is slipping, the Anti-Corruption Unit CBI, Kolkata that is conducting its own investigation into the evasion, has completed its investigations and filed charge sheets against many freight evading companies vindicating Railway’s stand.

The entire case has been caught in a legal mangle since the railways served demand notices on the freight evading companies operating in the Chakradharpur Division.

The companies took railways to Calcutta High Court challenging both Railway’s recovery action and the transportation policy itself. After a 3-year-long battle, railways won the case in the lower court. At one point of time there were 23 cases pending before various high courts.

However, in April 2015 a transfer petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking consolidation of those petitions.

The case is languishing without any breakthrough, and it has not been listed for Wednesday as was indicated by the court during the last hearing.

Five former Railway officials sentenced to 2 year rigorous imprisonment

Two years Rigorous Imprisonment to the then Member Engineering of Railway Board and four other Senior Officials (including a General Manager) of Southern Railway for causing a loss of Rs.2.29 Crore to Railways

5-arrestChennai: The XIII additional special judge for CBI cases, Chennai, has sentenced five former top railway officials, including the then Member-Engineering, Railway Board and General Manager, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years on a charge of violating tender rules and causing loss of Rs 2.29 crore to the national transporter.

Judge S.Jawahar also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on them.  According to CBI, the then Member-Engineering, Railway Board, V.K.Agnihotri, General Manager,  N.Kirthivasan, Chief Track Engineer, P.Rajamoni, Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer, R.S.Narayanan, Additional General Manager S.Sethuraman, Chief Signal & Telecommunication Engineer, S.Ramasubramanian and a Civil Engineering contractor S.Palani committed the irregularities in 1995.

The railway officials recommended and sanctioned machinery advance of Rs. 26.64 lakh to Palani, for supply of hand broken ballast, which was not required for railways, violating tender rules. They also recommended and sanctioned machinery advances of Rs.10.57 lakh, Rs.9.16 lakh and Rs.12.28 lakh for three other contracts to Palani. They placed orders for supply of ballast in 11 reaches requiring very huge quantities. All the contracts were terminated and subsequently fresh contracts were awarded to various other contractors. As a result, the railways incurred a loss of Rs 2.29 crore, being additional expenditure incurred towards execution of terminated contracts, apart from advances given to Palani.

During trial, Narayanan and Palani died and charges against them were abated.  The judge sentenced Agnihotri, Kirthivasan, Rajamoni, Sethuraman and Rama Subramanian to undergo RI for two years.

CBI arrests Senior Section Engineer of Chandigarh on graft charges

In an another instance, CBI today arrested a Senior Section Engineer of Northern Railway from Chandigarh station for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 25,000 for clearing bills.

A Railway Contractor (Private Person) has alleged that he got a contract for transportation of P.Way Material with Railway Department since 2013 and final bill of the said contract was yet to be prepared in respect of the work done, CBI spokesperson said here.

Based on his complaint CBI has registered a case under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The security money, PG and Earnest Money was also pending with the Senior Section Engineer(SSE), Track Depot, Northern Railway, Ambala Cantt. He (contractor) visited the office of SSE and requested him for preparation of final bill and also to release security money,” the spokesperson said.

She said it was alleged that the SSE demanded a bribe of Rs 70,000 from the contractor for settling his dues.

“On the request of the complainant, the bribe amount was reduced to Rs 60,000 and the accused agreed to accept Rs 25,000 as first installment of bribe. CBI laid a trap at the premises of Railway Station, Chandigarh and caught the Senior Section Engineer red handed,” she said.

Railway Ministry brands 22 Officials ‘tainted’

corrupt railway officialsNew Delhi: In a major move against corruption, the railway ministry has branded 22 of its senior officials as “tainted”.

These officials, under surveillance, have been for the time being kept away from any “sensitive postings”.

According to sources, the list of these “tainted officials with doubtful integrity” was provided to the railway ministry by the CBI.

The list of tainted officials is also called “agreed or secret” list, they added.

“Four officers of the Northeastern Railway are in the current agreed list. All the four officers have been posted on non-sensitive posts as per the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),” sources said.

Besides, 18 officers of the North Eastern Railway are in the secret list also and 13 of them have been posted on non-sensitive posts as per CVC guidelines, they added.

Sources further said, “Remaining five officers are working on sensitive posts. However, as per provisions of Indian Railway Vigilance Manual 2006, the financial powers have been withdrawn in respect of four officers and one officer is on long sick leave.”

Meanwhile, in its bid to ensure that honest officers are not harassed by any prosecuting agency while seeking prosecution sanction from the concerned department or ministry, anti-corruption watchdog, the CVC, has already asked them to ensure that all guidelines for granting such sanctions should be “strictly followed” in letter and spirit as “grant of sanction is not a mere formality”.

In a circular issued in June 2015 to all Central ministries and departments, the CVC said, “The prosecution must send the entire relevant record to the sanctioning authority including the FIR, disclosure statements, statements of witnesses, recovery memos, draft-chargesheet and all other relevant material.

The record so sent should also contain the material or document, if any, which may tilt the balance in favour of the accused and on the basis of which, the competent authority may refuse sanction.” The authority itself has to do complete and conscious scrutiny of the whole record.

Fraudulent Practices in supply of HDGC Contact & Catenary Wires to CORE

CORE Accounts Department in fraudulently connivance with HDGC Contact Wire suppliers. Practice going on un-uninterruptedly for more than a decade in CORE in the supply of HDGC

CORE corruptionA deep routed corruption, continuing for more than one decade, in the supply and payment of “HDGC Contact Wire”to Central Organization For Railway Electrification(CORE),  Allahabad. The contact Wire is used in Railway Track Electrification where safety of millions of passengers are on stake every day. The modus-operandi of corruption will be separately exposed in parts, firstly for the period 2006-07 to 2012-13 and secondly 2013-14 onwards.

In the month of February 2016,  CORE has made  payment  for the supply of HDGC Contact Wire to one supplier @ Rs 3.90 Lac per MT (Basic Rate) + Excise Duty + CST + Freight, whereas to the other supplier, CORE is making payment @ Rs 4.29 Lac per MT (Basic Rate) + Ex Duty + CST + Freight. The higher rate bill  by Rs. 0.46 Lac per MT (Including Ex Duty & CST) is paid by CORE Accounts Department in fraudulently connivance with HDGC Contact Wire supplier.

CORE has purchased in F Year  2015-16, a quantity of 8000 MT of HDGC Contact Wire and Catenary Wire. Accordingly CORE has paid almost Rs 37 crore additional payment to vendors of HDGC Contact Wire and Catenary Wires in the F Year 2015-16.  Besides the excess payment made, utmost poor quality raw material has been used in manufacturing HDGC Contact Wire and catenary Wires. Documentary avidence and the details of complete modus operandi of fraudulent practices are available with the ‘Railway Samachar’.

A letter bringing the above facts to the notice of Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu (with a copy to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Advisor Vigilence, Railway Board, General Manager/CORE, Chief Vigilance Officer/CORE, Director General/RDSO, Chief Vigilance Officer/RDSO and Chief Vigilance Officer, RITES) has been written in the last month, but no action has been taken so far. The Copy of this letter is in possession of ‘Railway Samachar’.

‘Railway Samachar’ sincerely look forward to highlight the fraudulent practices going on un-interruptedly for the last more than one and a half decade in CORE in the supply of HDGC Contact Wires and Catenary Wires.

CBI files Chargesheet against former Railway Officials in RailNeer Scam for causing loss of Rs.19.5 Crore

RailNeer Bottling PlantNew Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed a chargesheet against two former chief commercial managers of railways, a businessman, CEO of a private firm and eight companies for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 19.5 crore to the transporter by selling cheaper packaged water in place of Rail Neer.

CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said that charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act have been brought in the chargesheet filed at the Patiala House court here.

The sources said that the agency has kept open the probe into the case as the loss calculated is only for Northern Railway and figures may increase as the agency plans to expand investigations to 16 other zones as well.

Those named in the chargesheet include the then CCMs (catering) M S Chalia and Sandeep Silas, CEO of RK Associates, Rajeev Mittal, director of the company, Sharan Bihari Agarwal, besides private companies Satyam Caterers, Ambuj Hotels, PK Associates, Sunshine Caterers, Doon’s Caterers, Vrindavan Food Products, Food World and R D Sharma and Sons

It is alleged that the “accused had shown favour to these private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ on premium trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express”, CBI spokesperson said.

“During searches at various places, including Delhi/Noida, etc., at the residence and official premises of private caterers, huge cash of about Rs 28.5 crore (approx) was recovered. A large number of incriminating documents were also recovered from the premises of the accused,” she said.

The spokesperson said that investigations have revealed that during the period January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014, the licensee caterers had allegedly not picked up Rail Neer as per the quota prescribed by IRCTC and supplied other cheaper brands of packaged drinking water (PDW) in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, despite it not being allowed.

“They had allegedly claimed reimbursement from Northern Railway as was prescribed for supply of Rail Neer. As per railway agreement/guidelines, except Rail Neer, no other brand of PDW was approved by the railway for supply in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains originating from Delhi,” CBI said.

She said that they were, however, allegedly providing other brands of PDW costing between Rs 5-7 per bottle (approx) and claiming Rs 15 per bottle (approx) from the railways.

“It has been revealed that there was an alleged undue gain of Rs 19.55 crore (approx) to the contractors/licensee and loss to the government exchequer in Northern Railway,” she said.

Electrification works on Itarsi-Allahabad hits hurdle as CBI lodges probe into corruption charges

rly electrificationBhopal: CBI on Saturday lodged a preliminary enquiry (PE) to probe corruption in electrification of key Itarsi-Allahabad railway route. The 605km Naini-Manikpur-Katni-Itarsi route and 479km Katni-Singrauli-Garwa stretch were identified for electrification under Vision 2020 – a blueprint for Railway Electrification Programme. The project was delayed for several years due to political interference before the contract was given to Delhi-based M/s CIPL-Cobra.

In September, CBI kickstarted a probe into 189-km track between Jabalpur and Satna districts, following allegations that flawed erection of electric poles may lead to rail accidents.

CIPL-Cobra had bagged Rs 150-crore contract of Itarsi-Allahabad rail route electrification work from West-Central Railways (WCR) in 2013 for 36 months and work is in progress. CIPL is a multi-national company working with Cobra in India.

During a joint surprise check conducted by CBI’s Jabalpur unit and WCR’s vigilance at Maihar and Satna on Saturday, investigators found poles erected without proper base.

“Foundation is important for stability of overhead line poles. Many poles were installed without foundation. They may collapse on tracks during heavy rains and trigger rail accidents,” said a senior railway officer. Senior WCR engineers have also come under CBI scanner for releasing payment to company without testing or checking installation work. “There are 33 poles in every one km distance. We think many poles have to be re-erected,” said the officer.

After this was brought to their notice, the company was ready to replace poles that did not meet parameters.

CBI, however, decided to go ahead with an inquiry. “CBI is already understaffed. Checking each and every pole on 500 km stretch is not an easy task. And then the inquiry will take about five years, stalling the crucial electrification project,” said a railway official privy to information. He said the agency should have considered the company’s plea to replace the wrong pole so that work could have been completed. CBI brass, however, feels an inquiry was necessary to bust corruption.

Rail Neer Scam: Court grants Bail to Official, No Relief for Business Man

New Delhi: A special court today granted bail to a senior railway officer but declined the relief to a businessman arrested in connection with alleged corruption in the supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani and other superfast trains.

The court granted bail to M S Chalia, an Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, on a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 with one surety of the like amount observing that keeping him in judicial custody would not serve any purpose.

However, Special Judge Vinod Kumar dismissed the bail plea of businessman Sharan Bihari Aggarwal saying that he was the “direct beneficiary” of the transactions and investigation about the approximately Rs. 28 crore cash recovered during the searches was going on.

“It must be kept in mind that the applicant is the direct beneficiary of the transaction in question. Therefore, I am of the opinion that it is not a fit stage to grant bail to the applicant as it has the possibility of hampering the investigation. Accordingly, the bail application is hereby dismissed,” the court said.

CBI had opposed Mr Chalia’s bail plea saying that he had abused his official position as he did not act despite several letters sent by IRCTC to supply Rail Neer and supply of other brands of water resulted in a loss of Rs. 6.25 crores to the railways.

The judge, however, granted him bail saying, “I am of the opinion that keeping him in judicial custody will not serve any purpose. According, I admit the applicant/accused M S Chalia to bail…”

Besides these two accused, senior rail officer Sandeep Silas, also an IRTS officer, was also arrested by CBI in connection with the case. He is at present in judicial custody

Railways Minister calls for Stringent Fight against Corruption, flags off ‘Vigithon’

New Delhi: Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu called for a fight against corruption at the grass-root level while flagging-off a marathon in the city to sensitise people on the issue.

‘Vigithon: A run for corruption free India’ was organised by public sector lender, Union Bank of India. “A unique way in which financial institutions like the Union Bank of India can contribute to fighting corruption, could be through the deployment of people’s savings in development sectors which in turn can lead to increased wealth-earning opportunities and generate employment for the people,” a statement quoting Prabhu said.

“Initiatives like the Vigithon can go a long way in educating the people about several instances of corruption and empowering them with the means to fight the problem,” he added.

According to Prabhu, banks should also hold initiatives to fight against corruption “which should start at the grass-root levels”.

The event by Union Bank is an attempt at bringing in all stakeholders together on a common platform to create sensitisation against corruption. Union Bank of India CMD Arun Tiwari said that “the need for increased vigilance for detecting instances of corruption and fighting against them should start from the self”.

“We also plan to organise additional editions of this event across nine Union Bank of India Field General Manager’s offices and invite officials from law enforcement agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Corruption Bureau to enlighten the staff on several issues of corruption,” he added.

The run was organised as a precursor to the ‘Vigilance Awareness Week’, which is going to be observed from tomorrow till October 31.

Vigilance awareness week is observed every year since 2000 as per the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission. The objective of observing it is to reaffirm one’s commitment to fight corruption and as a result enabling good governance in the country.

Several school children, common people, customers and employees of the bank participated in Vigithon.

SCR to Observe Vigilance Awareness Week – 2015

The South Central Railway will observe Vigilance Awareness Week from October 26thto October 30th, 2015, as directed by the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi. This week is observed to coincide with the week in which the birthday (31st October) of Sardar Vallabhai Patel falls. Sardar Patel is credited with the setting up of administrative structure of Government of India post independence. The objective of the Vigilance Awareness Week is to bring about alertness amongst the public and government employees through participative and pro-active vigilance management, to bring down the menace of corruption to zero.

The theme for the current year’s Vigilance Awareness Week observance is “Preventive Vigilance as a Tool of Good Governance”.

The Vigilance wing of SCR will organize programmes during the week to cover Zonal Headquarters, six Divisions, three major Workshops and field units to create awareness against corruption /malpractices and to bring about system improvement through use of technology.

The Week will commence o­n Monday, i.e. 26th October, 2015 with employees of all units taking a Pledge in the forenoon o­n eradication of corruption in all spheres of public life. The Pledge will be administered by Sri Ravindra Gupta, General Manager/SCR at the Zonal headquarters and by the respective heads at other offices.

A special programme has been organized o­n 26th October, 2015 afternoon in Rail Nilayam premises which shall be attended by the General Manager, Principal Heads of departments, Senior Officers, and Supervisors. Prof. (Dr.) Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad would be the Chief Guest. Apart from delivering the keynote address, Prof. (Dr.) Mustafa would interact with the audience.

Programmes such as Quiz Contests, Skits, Presentation of case studies and Panel discussions are being organized throughout the week at Headquarters and Divisional offices. A special drive will be undertaken to generate public and staff awareness against corruption by launching campaign through posters and personal counseling by Vigilance Officials at important public and staff contact areas in the field.

With Central Vigilance Commission’s advice to the Indian Railways to additionally contribute towards ensuring a wider outreach for creating awareness o­n corruption and its effects amongst youth and students, programmes at Schools/Colleges in Secunderabad and Vijayawada are also being planned by organizing Guest lectures, Elocution and Panel discussions.

Rail Neer contractor made Rs.500 Crore worth business empire in 10 years

Rahul Agrawal, Abhishek Agrawal and Rajiv Mittal of Comesum
Rahul Agrawal, Abhishek Agrawal and Rajiv Mittal of Comesum

New Delhi: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation exposed a major scam in the supply of packaged drinking water within the Railways, it has now emerged that the ‘Rail Neer’ contractor had  made a business empire worth Rs 500 crore in just over a decade.

As per a report, Shyam Bihari Agrawal, booked by CBI following its raid in connection with the ‘Rail Neer’ scandal, virtually controlled the railway catering services. Agarwal is the owner of the chain of Comesum restaurants at railway stations across India. He reportedly holds about 70% of pantry car business in Indian Railways through his parent company RK Associates & Hoteliers and several other front companies.

Agrawal, who hails from Chhattisgarh, gets almost all the contracts in the premium trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi express besides other important trains, the report said qouting the CBI sources.

Agrawal made the fortune after getting small catering contracts in railways with the help of some senior politicians and bureaucrats. He is said to be close to two former railway ministers and managed to get big contracts for catering.

Four of Agarwal’s several companies have been named by CBI in its FIR.

“Whenever there is a tender in railways for catering, he opens a new company with different set of Directors. Through his contacts, he gets the contract,” said an official was quoted as saying.

The agency had on Friday raided 13 places in Delhi and Noida, and registered a case against two senior officials of Northern Railway and seven private companies in connection with the alleged scam. The case has been lodged against former chief commercial managers (PS and Catering) of Northern Railway MS Chalia and Sandeep Silas.

The companies booked by CBI are RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World under Prevention of Corruption Act.

CBI also recovered Rs 27 crore from the residence of Shyam Bihari Agrawal, his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal, who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product World.

As per CBI, the railway officials had favored these private firms by allowing other packaged drinking water other than the mandatory Rail Neer in premium trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express, and were making big gains.

According to a Railway Board order, IRCTC is to provide Rail Neer at roughly Rs 10.50 per bottle to the private caterers and the private caterers will be paid roughly Rs 15 per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.

Flouting the norm, the private suppliers were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, whih is sold in the market at around Rs 6-7 per bottle, thereby causing loss to the exchequer.

CBI lens on catering major Comesum

A major player in Railway catering service, Comesum Group, has come under scanner of CBI which has arrested two senior rail officials and a businessman in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani and other superfast trains.

Sandeep Silas, a 1984-batch Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, and MS Chalia of 1987 batch were taken into custody late last night along with Sharan Bihari Agrawal, owner of R K Associates, in connection with the scam, CBI sources said today.

The trio were produced in the court today which has sent them to one day police custody.

CBI spokesperson said they would be produced in Patiala House court tomorrow again.

Both officers were immediately suspended after CBI carried out searches at their residences on October 17.

CBI sources claimed CEO of RK Associates Rajiv Mittal’s residence was searched yesterday as part of its probe from where cash worth Rs 52 lakh was recovered while another Rs one crore was recovered from Sagar Residency in Ashram here.

The recovery has taken the total cash to be around Rs 28 crore during its searches.

Mittal is one of the Directors of the the Comesum Group, the web site of which states that “Comesum Food Plaza is a brainchild of RK Associates”.

“This has been primarily possible only when Rahul Agrawal, Abhishek Agrawal and a cousin Rajiv Mittal set up Comesum,” it says.

Repeated calls to Comesum on the numbers given on its web site did not elicit any response. The queries sent through email also remained unasnwered.

CBI sources said although the company is not named as accused in the FIR, it will be probed for association with accused companies besides flow of funds.

The role of Agrawals in Comesum will also be probed further.

CBI busts Rail Neer Scam in Railways; seizes Rs.27 Crore from Suppliers

IRCTC incurred losses due to alleged corruption in supply of packaged water on trains

CBI officials with cash amounting to more than 20 crores recovered during search of seven private firms that allegedly supplying cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory “Rail Neer” in premium trains
CBI officials with cash amounting to more than 20 crores recovered during search of seven private firms that allegedly supplying cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory “Rail Neer” in premium trains

New Delhi: The CBI on Saturday recovered Rs 27 Crore in cash during searches at 13 locations against two former Northern Railways officials and seven private firms in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water other than mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains.

CBI sources said a case has been registered against the then Chief Commercial Managers (PS and Catering) of Northern Railways M S Chalia and Sandeep Silas. The Ministry of Railways announced earlier that two officials whose homes were raided by the CBI stand suspended.

CBI also recovered fake currency of Rs 4 lakh among Rs 27 crore recovered from Railway caterers during its searches.

Sources said, the agency stumbled upon unaccounted cash which was so huge that it took 15 hours of counting the currency with the help of three counting machines and five officials of the agency.

The agency has also booked private companies RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World under Prevention of Corruption Act provisions. Silas has served as the private secretary of a former Union Minister.

They said cash recovery of Rs 20 crore was made from the residence of Shyam Bihari Agrawal, his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product.

irctc railneer racket cbiAgrawal, who hails from Durg in Chhattisgarh, started as a small time caterer somewhere in 2004 and slowly increased the business taking the turnover of his company to around Rs 500 crore catering in almost all the Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, the sources said.

They said cash of Rs 1 crore was recovered from the office of his firms while Rs 52 lakh was recovered from the residence of his Chief Executive Officer.

The sources said CBI may slap charges of fake currency on Agrawal.

Counting mountains of cash isn’t an easy task. But for the good folks at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it’s just part of the job description
Counting mountains of cash isn’t an easy task. But for the good folks at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it’s just part of the job description

They said Agrawal, who was allegedly carrying on with fraud of selling cheap water in place of Rail Neer since 2012 in the trains, had purchased lot of land in the national capital region and owns luxury hotels in Noida, Ghaziabad, Navi Mumbai, Raipur.

They said he used his connections with the Railway officials to allegedly grab lucrative contracts of restaurants on Railway premises.

The two former Chief Commercial Managers Northern Railways (Catering division) were suspended in the wee hours of Saturday morning after CBI registered a case against them for allegedly showing favour to private firms which provided cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) to premium trains instead of the mandatory “Rail Neer”. The agency on October 16 carried out searches at 13 locations in NCR which included premises of two Chief Commercial Managers of Railways and private companies which included the two firms run by Agrawal.

CBI officials piling up the bundles of cash being counted
CBI officials piling up the bundles of cash being counted

It is alleged that the accused Railway officials had shown favour to private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express.

The officers identified as Sandeep Silas and MS Chalia, posted as Chief Project Manager (FOIS) and Chief Claims officer, respectively, now might be facing arrest if the probe agency deems it necessary to question them. Silas has served as the private secretary to three former Union ministers including Oscar Fernandes, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ambika Soni.

CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said it was further alleged that the Railway Board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide Rail Neer at a rate of Rs 10.50 (approx) per bottle to the private caterers and the private caterers will be paid Rs 15 (approx) per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.

According to sources the probe into their role has further widened after CBI recovered incriminating documents from the premises of private firms which were allegedly shown favour by the two officials. According to a CBI source, the probe agency is not only looking into the supply of bottled water, but also into restaurants located at railway stations that belonged to the catering firms which were in the good books of the officials. The agency is also looking into the catering products and food served in premium trains including Shatabdi and Rajdhani express. However, the private suppliers in order to obtain undue gain, were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than “Rail Neer”, available in the market at a rate of Rs 5.70 to Rs 7 (approx) per bottle, thereby causing gain to themselves and loss to the exchequer, the official said.

Searches are being conducted today at 13 places in Delhi and Noida which led to recovery of cash amount of more than Rs 20 crore (approx) and a large number of incriminating documents — Devpreet Singh, Spokesperson, CBI

“The accused public servants allegedly did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in the premium trains despite repeated requests of IRCTC for non-picking of allotted quota of ‘Rail Neer’ by Private Caterers,” the spokesperson said.

Piles and Piles of Cash - Searches conducted today at 13 places in Delhi and Noida which led to recovery of cash amount of more than Rs 20 crore (approx) and a large number of incriminating documents
Piles and Piles of Cash – Searches conducted today at 13 places in Delhi and Noida which led to recovery of cash amount of more than Rs 20 crore (approx) and a large number of incriminating documents

CBI said directions of Railway Board to ensure supply of “Rail Neer” in premium trains were also ignored by the officials thereby causing undue pecuniary advantage to the private parties and corresponding loss to IRCTC.

“The accused public servants allegedly did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in the premium trains despite repeated requests of IRCTC for non-picking of allotted quota of “Rail Neer” by private caterers and directions of Railway Board to ensure supply of “Rail Neer” PDW in premium trains, thereby causing undue pecuniary advantage to the private parties and corresponding loss to IRCTC,” said Devpreet Singh, CBI spokesperson.

On Friday the probe agency conducted searches on premises of at least seven private firms based in Delhi and recovered Rs20 crores in cash. CBI officials told that the amount that has been recovered has increased to a whopping Rs28 crores. “The money was stuffed in 27 large bags and hidden in various locations raided by the agency,” said a CBI official.

Bundles of seized Cash in Rail Neer scam lie in ordered piles at an undisclosed location of CBI
Bundles of seized Cash in Rail Neer scam lie in ordered piles at an undisclosed location of CBI

The companies booked by CBI are RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World, under Prevention of Corruption Act.

“A large number of incriminating documents have also been recovered,” said the CBI spokesperson.

Officials told that the most of the money was recovered from the residence of Shyam Bihari Agrawal, his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal, who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product World.

“Mr Agarwal was a small-time businessman in Chhattisgarh nearly two decades ago. Examination of accounts of one his firms shows that he has a turnover of more than Rs500 crore,” said a CBI official privy to the investigation. According to the official, the close relations Agarwal shared with senior officials of the railways had helped him to accumulate vast sums of money.

According to officials, the Railway Board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide “Rail Neer” at a rate of rupees 10.50 per bottle to the private caterers who in return would be paid rupees 15 per bottle for supplying the same to the passengers in premium trains . The private caterers however in order to obtain undue gain were allegedly supplying cheap PDW brands, instead of “Rail Neer”, which were available in the market at a rate Rs5.70 to Rs7 per bottle. The agency said the total amount of loss to the exchequer is yet to be calculated

Railway Minister orders probe into Ticket Rigging

Suresh Prabhu angryNew Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday directed the Railway Board Chairman to probe complaints into Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) reservation system and ordered technical audit of online bookings.

“Chairman Rail Board will investigate complaints into IRCTC bookings to ensure full transparency. Complete technical audit ordered for web bookings on IRCTC. No one will be allowed to manipulate a system,” Prabhu said in a Twitter post.

Separately, IRCTC on Saturday said it would  ensure that the supply of Rail Neer will be available in all trains where ever catering service is managed by it. Rail Neer is produced and supplied by IRCTC in trains. IRCTC has set up Rail Neer plants at several places including Nangloi, Danapur, Chennai and Amethi.

While Chennai produces about 15,000 cartons of Rail Neer per day, Nangloi produces about 11,000 cartons and Danapur produces about 7,500 cartons per day. One carton contains 12 bottles. “Our mandate is to produce and supply Rail Neer to Railways and Railways decide on where it will be sent,” said a senior IRCTC official.

Ahmedabad Metro Rail Scam: Court rejects former IAS Official’s Bail Petition

Ahmedabad (ADI): A designated court for Anti- Curruption Bureau (ACB) cases today turned down the regular bail plea of former IAS officer Sanjay Gupta and six others in connection with Rs.113-crore Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro rail scam.

The plea was rejected by Special ACB Court Judge H J Joshi.

In their bail plea, Gupta and others had contended that they should be given the relief since the investigation against them is already over and a charge sheet has been filed by the probe agency CID Crime.

However, public prosecutor Varsha Kiran Rao opposed their bail plea and told the court that further investigation is still on against the accused.

Rao said that the CID Crime recently uncovered illegal transactions worth Rs 70 crore made by Gupta, which is in addition to Rs 113 crore of financial irregularities brought out in the initial probe.

She argued that if Gupta is given bail at this point, there is a possibility that he may influence the probe. Based on these arguments, Special Judge H J Joshi rejected the bail plea.

The CID Crime had arrested Gupta, the former chairman of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro rail project, on May 14, alleging that financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 113 crore took place during his tenure in Metro link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) in 2012.

The CID had booked Gupta and ten others for siphoning off around Rs 113 crore by presenting forged bills and bogus documents related to ground filling work carried out near Bhat village for the metro railway project in 2012.

Gupta also allegedly floated several bogus firms by appointing Neesa Group employees as directors and showed these firms as material suppliers.

He paid Rs 11.12 crore to seven such companies and the money eventually went to his own accounts, CID says. It has also alleged that Gupta accepted Rs 60 crore as commission from other suppliers.

Gupta had quit IAS in the year 2003 to start his own business. He runs a group company of the Neesa Group which runs hotels. He had also started a Hindi channel called Jano Duniya which is defunct.

CID files charge sheet against ex-IAS officer in Ahmedabad Metro Scam

Ahmedabad: Gujarat police today filed a charge sheet against former chairman of Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) project Sanjay Gupta and 10 others, accusing them of syphoning off Rs.113 crore.

The 200-odd page charge sheet was filed before the special court for anti-corruption cases by the investigating officer and Deputy SP, S G Parmar. It accuses Gupta, former IAS officer, and others of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy, etc.

Others named in the charge sheet are his associates Radhesh Bhatt, Sudhanshu Kushwah, Chetan Patel, Prakash Patel, Sandip Patel, Govind Vanzara, Harinarayan Sinh, Tarun Padhiyar and Animesh Doshi. Bhalchandra Kaklute has been described as an absconding accused.

Bogus firms were created in the names of office boys and tenders awarded at inflated rates to them by Gupta, the main accused, it says.

False invoices were filed without getting any supplies for filling up the land at Motera for casting yard and depot, it mentions.

The investigation started after an audit revealed that against MEGA’s claim of 20.67 lakh sq mt land filling worth Rs 194.56 crore while work had been done only over 9.42 lakh sq mt, the charge sheet says.

Bogus bills for land filling work were cleared without any work done on the ground. The value of the material purportedly used for this was Rs 113.22 crore, it says.

The charge sheet also says that CID recorded statements of 301 witnesses.

CID arrested Gupta on May 14. He was chairman of metro rail project in 2012. He sought bail twice but failed to get relief.

Gupta quit IAS in 2003 to start his own business. He owns Neesa Group which runs hotels. He had also started a Hindi channel called ‘Jano Duniya’ which was later closed

CBI arrests IRCTC Official for cornering Railway Tickets

‘ The accused had allegedly interfered with the IRCTC system by installing a software at travel agents’ offices’

Bangalore (SBC): The CBI, Bengaluru on Wednesday raided 11 locations across different States and busted a racket in cornering railway tickets.

The Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of the CBI registered a case against Shahid, Assistant Manager, IRCTC, New Delhi and others.

The CBI officials said, “The accused had allegedly conspired and interfered with the IRCTC booking system by installing a software programme in the computers at various travel agents’ offices by which the agent can book six separate tickets, each for six passengers per ticket, i.e. 36 passengers in one go, where as in normal course an agent can book tickets only for six passengers at a time.”

The travel agents cornered tickets, which were then sold at higher prices. CBI claims to have recovered incriminating documents, hard disks, tatkal tickets and material used for creation of multiple IRCTC windows. Sleuths also raided vendors of New Trained Software, which was used by the racketeers.

On Wednesday, the police conducted simultaneous, coordinated searches at 11 locations spread over different states and unearthed the ticketing fraud. They seized incriminating documents, laptops, hard disks, and tatkal tickets that were used for creation of multiple IRCTC windows for generating multiple tickets at a time. They also raided the ‘offices’ of the agents supplying this software in Mumbai to Kolkata and seized their computers.

“All the electronic data will be sent to forensic labs and examined to unearth the mechanism,” a CBI source said.

Kolkata Rail Recruitment fraud victims were surprisingly ‘trained’,’paid’

Kolkata (KOAA): The detective department made one more arrest in the fake railway and extortion racket with the arrest of one Jitendra Chowdhury from Rishra. What the cops learnt from him has left them wondering on some insider role in running the gang. Sources said the gang used to operate at different levels and had several persons acting as their field agents across four cities in south Kolkata.

According to police sources, the accused used to charge anywhere between Rs 30,000-40,000 for filling up railway interview forms. Once they were convinced by the gang to come to Kolkata, they were lodged at Naihati and Kanchrapara where they were asked to undergo some “basic General Knowledge and Mathematics training.” They would then be asked to sit for a fake exam and some of them “passed.” The gang members were handed over fake TT badges and even a month’s “salary” (from the money paid to the gang as salaami) after they passed “medical exams” from railway hospitals. They would be “assigned work” at non-descript stations and carsheds with hardly any senior railway officer even having any inkling about the gang’s activities. All this same for a price – they had to shell thousands to get the offer letter. Anyone who refused to pay them were immediately kidnapped and around Rs 4 lakh demanded from family members to free him.

“This arrested Jitendra acted as the man who arranged for the medical tests at the government hospitals,” said joint CP (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh. But it was one Vinod, a top college BSc Honours graduate and a fluent speaker of English who trapped the victims in Hyderabad. Cops said his arrest was important to nab the gang leader. “We have identified the gang leader and know he was arrested earlier for committing the same crime,” said Ghosh.

Detective department said that they are in touch with CBI which had busted a similar racket three years ago. “While some of us were asked to attend training in a dingy shed in Calcutta, others told us that they had appeared for an examination at a centre outside Calcutta,” said P. Viswanathan of Salem, one of the victims of 2012. He added that 18 of them were put up at a Calcutta lodge for four months from January 2012 for training though classes were held only for two weeks. CBI sources said more than 200 people from Tamil Nadu had been cheated by the racket, operating since 2009-10. There were around 60 odd candidates from Kerala too.

Two persons identified as Rajendran and Omprakash were rescued from their clutches by the detective department in this regard last week after cops traced the mobile call to a place in Kasba. On Sunday, additional raids were carried out in this regard in south suburban Kolkata. “One Manikant Reddy, residing in Hyderabad, said he received a call on June 23 from his friend who said he was in Kolkata and that he has been kidnapped. Unless Rs 4 lakh was paid to his captors, he would not be released. Reddy came down to Kolkata and lodged a complaint this Wednesday in this regard. He said the call was made from his friend’s own number.

CBI arrests Bikaner Division’s ADEN working at Suratgarh for taking bribe

Jaipur: A railway engineer was today arrested by CBI for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.50,000 from a contractor for releasing his due payment.

An Assistant Divisional Engineer (ADEN) of the North Western Railway (NWR) posted at Suratgarh, was caught red-handed from his office while accepting the bribe of Rs 50,000 by the CBI, an official release said.

A railway contractor had complained that ADEN and a Senior Section Engineer (SSE), also posted at Suratgarh, were demanding bribe of Rs 50,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively for releasing the outstanding payment of civil work executed by him, it said.

“No role of the other officer has been substantiated till now. But since his name has been mentioned by the complainant, we are investigating the same,” it said.

The premises of accused in Jaipur and Suratgarh were also searched, it said.

He will be produced in the designated court in Jodhpur tomorrow, the release stated.

CBI frames charges in Rs.4000 Crore Railway Freight scam

CBI blows the lid off freight scam in railways. Four cases registered against railway officials and firms involved in freight scam
Sealed Weigh Bridge at Goods Yard in Tiruchy
Sealed Weigh Bridge at Goods Yard in Tiruchy

New Delhi: The CBI on Wednesday registered four cases in connection with the nearly Rs 4,000 crore Railway scam where officials manipulated the actual weight of loaded goods through software in wagons. This followed the investigations by the CBI and vigilance department of Indian Railways which unearthed the multi-crore Railway Weigh-bridge scam a few months back.

The investigation agency registered three cases in Tamil Nadu and one case in Maharashtra against unknown officials of Railways and private firms. In the first case, the Southern Railway officials in Mangalore manipulated the in-motion weigh bridge installed at Panambur Yard by modifying the software programme causing a wrongful loss of around Rs 20.72 crore to the Railways.

In the three cases, which were registered at Trichy, Tuticorin and Salem in Tamil Nadu, the railway officials fraudulently tampered with the installed Railway in-motion Electronic Weigh Bridges in Tamil Nadu causing losses to the tune of several hundred crore to the exchequer.

A senior CBI officer said that at Trichy, the railway officials manipulated in-motion weigh bridge – that took place between 2012 and 2014– and 64 rakes of goods trains were overloaded and sent by a private company, who was a bulk transporter of cement. At Tuticorin, the case was registered pertaining to the alleged fraud committed by a private company which installed the equipment at Melivattan village.

“A private company which was a bulk transporter had got several tonnes of excess goods transported using the same modus operandi,” the officer said. He also said that the third case was registered pertaining to the alleged fraud committed by a private transport company in connivance with the weigh bridge equipment installation company at Salem.

The fraud had occurred since 2011 and several rakes had been found to carry excess weight causing loss to the Railways. The probe agency had in April  carried out checks after they received inputs and found that several officials had manipulated the software for weighing goods wagons resulting in loss of revenue.

The officer said that in 2012-13, Railways had ferried 1,008 million metric tonnes of freight and earned Rs  85,262 crore through it, which constituted 67 per cent of the total revenue for the period. The goods are required to be weighed at the originating station or en route to or at the destination point with a view to plugging the leakage of revenue and to avoid overloading of the wagons.

The officer said inputs were received that this system had been manipulated at several places in such a way that overloading was concealed and weight of the wagon was shown to be within the permissible limit.

A CBI release said a wrongful loss of Rs.20.72 crore was caused to the Railways by showing lesser weight of wagons through manipulation of the software at the Pananmbur yard.

As detailed in earlier Express reports, the epi-centre of the scam was the Tiruchirapalli Goods Yard which was sealed in February this year after the CBI filed an FIR. Apart from an engineer of the private firm, Senlogic Automation, which installed and maintained the electronic in-motion weighbridge, the cement major Ramco Cements was also named in the February FIR filed by CBI.

The company’s cement clinkers were weighed at the Tiruchy yard before being sent to their plant in Ariyalur.

According to the FIR, the software of the in-motion weighbridges were tampered to show lesser than actual weight of goods transported through wagons.

According to the CBI, the manipulations at Tiruchy yard had taken place during the period from 2012 to 2014 and 64 rakes of goods trains were overloaded.

Apart from Pananmbur and Trichy, the CBI has also registered cases pertaining to similar frauds at Melivattan in Tuticorin and Salem.

The fraud was allegedly committed by a private transporter company in connivance with the weighbridge equipment installation company at both locations.

Sources said it is suspected that the alleged manipulation was done through collusion amongst railway officials, private vendors and freight operators.

CBI suspects that highly sophisticated methods were also used to manipulate the software. The agency also suspects losses of Rs 4,263 crore may have been caused going by figures of 2012-13 alone but are probing under-reporting of weighment of past three financial years, sources said adding that almost two-third of the revenue of Indian Railways’ comes from freight earnings.

Railways had in consultation with Research Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO) installed 200 ‘Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges’ at various locations across the country to weigh the freight in transit. Six vendors have been roped in by RDSO for setting up the bridges, which automatically measure the weight of goods train wagons passing through them at a speed of 15-km per hour, sources said.

MEGA Scam: Special Court rejects bail plea of ex-IAS officer Sanjay Gupta

The CID (crime) investigating the case had opposed his application saying, “Gupta is a habitual offender who has as many as 91 cases related to financial frauds lodged across the country.”

A special anti-corruption court on Tuesday rejected the bail application moved by ex-IAS officer Sanjay Gupta, currently lodged at Sabarmati central jail, Ahmedabad in connection with the alleged metro rail scam worth Rs.113 crore.

The CID (crime) investigating the case had opposed his application saying, “Gupta is a habitual offender who has as many as 91 cases related to financial frauds lodged across the country.”

On May 14, Gupta was arrested by a CID officer alleging that as the executive chairman of Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad Company Ltd (MEGA), he paid Rs 147 crore for filling land (20 lakh cubic metre) at Bhat Koteshwar-Motera area for constructing a casting yard and a depot. But only 9.42 cubic metre filling was done while the cost of 11 lakh cubic metre, worth Rs 113 crore, was allegedly pocketed by Gupta.

Gupta was the chairman of the MEGA between 2011 and 2013. The CID has claimed that the scam happened between 2012 and 2013. In 2013, Gupta had resigned from the post. A 1985-batch former IAS Gupta is the owner of Neesa Group of hotels and resorts under the brand name of Cambay in various parts of the country.

Opposing the bail plea, the CID had claimed that it has traced money transaction of Gupta allegedly revealing how he siphoned off large amounts of money to his companies, which are found to have been forged.

Metro Scam: CID terms Gupta habitual offender, opposes bail

Ahmedabad (ADI): Describing him as a “habitual offender”, the CID (Crime) — the agency which is investigating the alleged Rs 113-crore Ahmedabad Metro Rail scam — on Thursday said that the former IAS officer, Sanjay Gupta, has been booked in as many as 91 court cases lodged across the country.

Opposing his bail plea, the CID affidavit has also alleged that Gupta’s brother has threatened witnesses and the act has been audio-video recorded.

Gupta has move a special anti-corruption court seeking bail in connection with the multi-crore scam case. He is lodged in the Sabarmati Central Jail.

According to the CID affidavit, total of 91 cases have been lodged against Gupta in connection with alleged financial irregularities in Muzaffarnagar, Sangrur, Kaithal, Yamunanagar, Jaipur, Ambala, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, among other places, for cheating, breach of trust and cases of cheque returns.

The affidavit claims that “the accused is a habitual offender and various summons, warrants and notices have been issued against him by the courts”. Following the affidavit, Gupta’s lawyer I H Syed told the court that he would file a counter affidavit on Friday. According to the affidavit, Gupta opened firms in the name of his office boy, among other staffs. The CID has also produced statements of witnesses who were directly or indirectly associated with him.

The affidavit stated that Rajesh Mishra, one of the witnesses, was threatened by Gupta’s brother Arvind and the “act” has been audio-video recorded. There are three other employees of Gupta’s firm who have recorded evidence and produced before the police, the affidavit stated. Gupta was the chairman of the Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad Company Ltd (MEGA) between 2011 and 2013. The CID has claimed that the scam happened between 2012 and 2013.

In 2013, Gupta had resigned from the post. He was arrested last Thursday and lodged in the jail. The CID investigation has allegedly revealed that Gupta as chairman of MEGA made a payment of Rs 147 crore for filling land (20 lakh cubic metre) to construct a casting yard and a depot at Bhat Koteshwar-Motera.

However, in reality, only 9.42 lakh cubic metre filling was done and remaining over 11 lakh cubic metre, whose filling cost is estimated to be around Rs 113 crore, has no record. A 1985-batch former IAS Gupta owns Neesa Group of hotels and resorts under the brand name of Cambay in various parts of the country.

Opposing the bail plea, the CID affidavit claims that it has traced money transaction of Gupta allegedly revealing how he siphoned off large amounts of money to his companies which are found to have been forged.

Metro scam: accused ex-IAS officer seeks bail

Ahmedabad (ADI): Sanjay Gupta, the jailed ex-IAS officer and former Executive Chairman of Metrolink Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad’ (MEGA), today sought bail in the Rs 113-crore metro rail scam.

In the application before Additional Sessions Judge N G Dave, Gupta said he had been wrongly implicated in the case.

Since the case was based on documentary evidence, there was no need to keep him in jail, said the application. His former aide and MEGA project’s former Construction Manager Radhesh Bhatt too has sought bail.

CID, which is probing the scam, opposed the bail pleas.

The affidavit, filed by the investigating officer DSP S G Parmar, said Gupta had tried to influence the witnesses and tamper with the evidence and CID had audio and video evidence of this.

Further hearing on the bail applications would take place tomorrow.

CID arrested Gupta and Bhatt on May 14, alleging that financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 113 crore took place during their tenures in MEGA in 2012.

Gupta quit IAS in 2003 to start his own business. He owns Neesa Group which runs hotels. He was appointed Executive Chairman of Metro project in 2011 and resigned in August 2013.

CID has alleged that Gupta and seven of his subordinates siphoned off Rs 113 crore by presenting forged bills and bogus documents related to ground filling work carried out near Bhat village for Metro project in 2012.

Gupta also allegedly floated several bogus firms by appointing Neesa Group employees as directors and showed these firms as material suppliers. He paid Rs 11.12 crore to seven such companies and the money eventually went to his own accounts, CID says. It has also alleged that Gupta accepted Rs 60 crore as commission from other suppliers.

Fall of Sanjay Gupta: From IAS to conman

ex mega chiefAhmedabad (ADI): Former IAS officer turned entrepreneur Sanjay Gupta, accused of corruption during his stint with Ahmedabad Metro, was sent to judicial custody on Tuesday after the state CID decided not to seek further custody. The next hearing of the case is scheduled on May 21.

Gupta was arrested on Friday on charges of corruption amounting to a sum of Rs 113 cr during his tenure with the Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project between 2011 and 2013.

The state CID has also carried out searches at various places to find documents pertaining to the alleged acts of corruption. However, according to sources, the sleuths have not been successful in their endeavour as also in their effort to ferret out information from the former bureaucrat.

The 1985 batch IAS officer had played a pivotal role in turning around the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) and also setting up the Science City project during the regime of Keshubhai Patel.

However, after the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, Gupta was transferred to Sangeet Natak Academi from his position of Managing Director of GSPC. It is said that he was blamed for a tussle between the state government and a Canada based corporate house that had displeased too many people.

In 2011 he was made the chairman of the Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad ( MEGA) Company Ltd. However amid speculations of corruption, he had resigned in 2013.

After resigned from the IAS Gupta briefly joined the Adani group as the CEO of Adani Infrastructure Project. But he soon turned entrepreneur himself and started the Neesa Group of hotels and resorts under the brand name Cambay across Gandhinagar, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Goa and Kerala.

MEGA Metro Rail scam accused former IAS sent to Judicial Custody

Ahmedabad (ADI): Criminal Investigation Department (CID)-Crime, Gujarat Police today didn’t demand further remand of Ahmedabad Metro rail scam accused former IAS officer Sanjay Gupta and Radhesh Bhatt. Gupta who was earlier sent on four days remand told the court that he was pressurized during remand. Gupta also sought protection from court against news coverage of ongoing investigation while the case is sub judice. Gupta’s lawyer told court that accused wants to give statement under CRPC 281 before court. Further hearing in this case is scheduled on 21st May. Court has sent both accused to Judicial custody

CID-Crime arrests former Metro Rail chief, ex-IAS Sanjay Gupta

ex mega chiefAhmedabad (ADI): Gujarat CID today arrested Sanjay Gupta, an ex-IAS officer and former executive chairman of the state-owned Metrolink Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA), for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore scam.

“Based on a complaint related to economic offences, CID-crime unit of Gandhinagar today arrested Sanjay Gupta,” Director General of police P C Thakur said.

Gupta was appointed as the executive chairman of metro project in 2011. He resigned in August 2013. The government found some financial irregularities during his tenure and lodged a complaint with CID-Crime on April 1 this year.

“As per the complaint filed by the CEO of MEGA Rajesh Mehta, Gupta and six others allegedly siphoned off Rs 113 crore through forged bills. It is alleged that when Gupta was heading the PSU, the company made payments for materials which never arrived,” said assistant commissioner of police, CID, S G Parmar.

MEGA was set up for the execution of metro project here.

The materials were to be used at a construction near Bhat village near Gandhinagar.

“Apart from Gupta, we have also arrested Radhesh Bhatt, who worked as a manager under Gupta and is accused of a similar fraud of Rs 2.62 crore for which a separate complaint was filed in December against him,” said Parmar.

Gupta quit IAS in 2003 to start his own business. He owns Neesa Group which runs hotels. He had also started a Hindi channel called Jano Duniya recently but it was later closed.

Ahmedabad metro work was inaugurated by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in March this year.

The 1985-batch IAS, Gupta has to his credit the successful foray in the natural gas grid in the state and turnaround of state-owned energy player Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited.

Gupta was made the chairman of Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd, the special purpose vehicle for the Metro project, in April 2011 but he resigned in August 2013 to return to his multiple business interests under the Neesa Group of Companies. With the aim to fund his own companies and of other entrepreneurs, Gupta launched private equity fund, Let India Fly Foreover (LIFE) with fund size of Rs. 250-300 crore fund in September 2013.

Gupta had left the civil services in 2002, after Narendra Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat. Known for his networking expertise and turning around of the state-run energy player GSPC Group, Gupta was also associated with the Adani Group as an advisor. Later he ventured into hospitality business through his own Neesa Leisure Limited under the Neesa Group, which once touched Rs. 2,000 crore turnover with about 3,000 employees on its rolls.

According to sources in the know, Gupta’s companies including the hospitality business faced severe financial crisis while several ventures like a TV new channel couldn’t take off.

His hospitality business includes six luxury hotels and two golf properties. While other Neesa Group companies include Neesa Leisure Ltd, Neesa Infrastructure, Neesa Agritech and Food, Orient Spa, Neesa Technologies, Neesa Financial Services, Neesa Township & Properties and Cambay SEZ Hotels.

CBI arrests Masterminds of railway recruitment racket

Mumbai: CBI team has arrested a Bihar-native from Selaqui here in connection with the fake railway recruitment website through which several people were allegedly duped of lakhs of rupees. The alleged masterminds of a job racket were held for fleecing unemployed youths on the pretext of giving them recruitment in railways and training for the same using a fake Railway Recruitment Board website.

Two prime accused in the case, Naresh Rathi alias Balram Sharma and Akhilesh Kumar alias Sachidanand Jha, were arrested this week from Haryana and Dehradun, respectively, while four members of the gang were nabbed in Lucknow last month, CBI sources said here today. About 18 months ago, a gang of 12 had set up a fake website similar to that of the Railway Recruitment Board and cheated several unemployed youths with the false promise that they would be hired as ticket collectors with Northern Railway.

“These gang members took the victims to railway office for imparting ‘training’ for positions in railways. The gang was operating in various parts of the country and targeting gullible unemployed youth,” a CBI official said.

The sources said that Rathi and Kumar emerged as the alleged ring leaders of the gang and were arranging for medical examination and training of the unsuspecting victims, to whom they would issue appointment letters in the name of railways.

CBI had registered an FIR last month on the complaint of one Lalit Verma, who claimed he was cheated to the tune of Rs 1.50 lakh on the pretext of being given employment as a ticket checker in Northern Railways.

“More cases of similar cheating have also come to light.

The modus operandi adopted by the gang was to issue forged appointment letters (to victims) and arranging their bogus medical examination at Railway Hospital to convince them about the genuineness of the selection. The gang was operating using a fake website of Railway Recruitment Control Board,” the official said.

Three of the 12 accused had been arrested earlier. The probe by the economics offenses wing (EOW) of the CBI led them to Dehradun, where they arrested a key accused Sachchidanand Jha, a native of Darbhanga in Bihar. Jha had been living in Selaqui for the past few months and had even worked as a property dealer in the area. During his stay in Dehradun, too, he allegedly duped several local residents with bad property deals.

Deputy superintendent of police (CBI) Akhil Kaushik said, “On Wednesday, Jha was produced before a court by the CBI team in order to get a transit remand for Delhi. Upon getting the court’s permission, Jha was taken to Delhi for investigation. He had been living in Dehradun using different names — Akhilesh Jha, Akhilesh Sharma and Naresh Rathi. He is likely to be produced before a Delhi court on Thursday.”

The CBI officer said that the gang had created a fake website with a sharp resemblance to that of the Railway Recruitment Board’s to lure “targets”. The conmen would then charge unsuspecting victims between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh to “arrange” jobs.

Delhi Metro staff resold train tokens, Scam runs into Lakhs of Rupees

New Delhi: In a scam that could have caused the Delhi Metro lakhs of rupees in revenue every day, officials at the Ghitorni station were caught collecting tokens from passengers at exit gates and reselling them to line their pockets on the sly.

The station controller, who was allegedly involved in the racket, has been suspended and chargesheeted and an enquiry has been initiated to ascertain the loss of revenue to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). As per initial estimates, the officials were pocketing at least Rs 1 lakh every day for over a month. The enquiry will also check if a similar scam was being run in other stations.

“Passengers deboarding at the Ghitorni metro station were stopped from depositing their token at the exit gate. The staff, after collecting about 100 tokens, used to resell them to other passengers. The token remained valid and the money collected was shared among the station controller and others involved with him,” said a senior DMRC official, requesting anonymity.

Though the DMRC conducts random checks, the scam was first noticed by CISF personnel who alerted the concerned authority. CCTV footage reportedly proves the charges.

“DMRC takes such matters seriously and a detailed enquiry is being conducted. The station controller has been suspended and a chargesheet has been issued. If the charges are proven, action will be taken as per DMRC service act,” said a spokesperson.

The CISF had unearthed a racket last year too wherein officials were caught charging extra from commuters who were unaware of the fare structure.

Around the same time the Delhi Police arrested a software engineer who accessed credit card details of people and used it to recharge Metro smartcards online. He later got the smartcards refunded and pocketed the cash.

Freight evasions: Top Cos gained from non-compliance of rules in booking & delivery of iron ore in UPA Regime

New Delhi: In a major exposé, the CAG said on Friday that Tata, Essar, Jindal, Rungta and Kalyani were among the firms that gained from freight evasions through non-compliance with rules for booking and delivery of iron ore by railway.

The scam, spread over five years from 2008 during the UPA regime, caused a loss of more than Rs 29,000 crore to the Railways.

In its report tabled in Parliament on Friday, the CAG said the evasion of freight and non-imposition of penalty for irregular allowance of concessional rate for ferrying iron ore for domestic use were major reasons behind the monumental loss.

“The Audit Report highlights the deficiencies in compliance with laid-down rules and procedures in booking and delivery of iron ore at domestic rate by concerned Railway officials that resulted in a financial loss to the extent of Rs 29,236.78 crore,” says the report.

According to the report, there was freight evasion of Rs 12,722.65 crore and non-imposition of penalty to the tune of Rs 11,418.16 crore due to partial submission or non-submission of documents, or submission of invalid documents. Non imposition of penalty caused a loss of Rs 5,095.97 crore for diversion for trading the iron ore transported at domestic rate.

CBI set to file first FIR in multi-crore Railways freight scam

New Delhi: The CBI is set to file its first FIR in connection with the multi-crore Railways freight weighment scam it had unearthed last month.

According to sources, the FIR would be filed against some private vendors involved in the weighment process, Railway officials, as well as two cement firms that are suspected to be beneficiaries due to the scam.

The CBI, along with the Railways Vigilance department, had unearthed a “highly sophisticated” railway freight scam in which the software that automatically weighs goods on wagons passing over weigh-bridges was manipulated, causing “huge financial loss” to the government.

The scam is alleged to have been perpetrated through collusion of Railway officials, private vendors and freight operators.

The CBI had received inputs that the weighing system at several places had been manipulated in such a way that over-loading of a wagon was concealed and the weight shown to be within the permissible limit. The CBI then conducted checks at 65 Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges (EIMWBs) across the country in which systematic under-weighment at many locations, leading to the EIMWB recording a lower than actual weight, was found. At some of locations, the quantum of under-weighment increased with an increase in speed of the rake.

No role in weighbridge tampering, claims Ramco Cement

Chennai (MAS): A day after media reported how the CBI raids across the country to unearth the railway freight scam was triggered by an instance in Tiruchirapalli, Ramco Cements Ltd., the alleged main beneficiary in the scam in Tiruchy, has denied any connection with the case.

In its FIR, the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the CBI had mentioned that the electronic in-motion weighbridge used to weigh clinkers – a raw material used in cement manufacture – sent to the company’s plant in Ariyalur had been tampered with to show less than the actual weight of the consignment.

Ramco has been named as accused number four in this case, after the two railway officials and a service engineer who allegedly tampered with the digital equipment.

“It is unfortunate that our name was dragged into this matter for reasons not known to us. We were not served a copy of the FIR,” said senior General Manager (Administration) of Ramco’s Ariyalur plant C Ravichandran, in response to an e-mail questionnaire sent by Express.

The response noted that the top management of the company was not aware of the alleged benefits accrued due to the manipulation of the weigh-bridge software.

Ravichandran claimed that the company had carried an internal investigation, but found no evidence to prove that any employee had colluded with the three named in the CBI FIR – two Railway officials and the service engineer of Senlogic Automation Pvt Ltd., the private company that supplied and maintained the digital weighbridge. Ramco had provided all details to the CBI during the agency’s investigation, he said.

Sources in the Railways said that the residence of one of the officials accused of being part of the racket was raided by investigators, but nothing was found. The key vigilance inspector of Southern Railways, who was part of the operation which unearthed the scam, was awarded during the recent Railway Week Celebrations, the sources added. The closure of the electronic in-motion weighbridge at Tiruchirapalli, which was sealed by Southern Railways after the malfeasance came to light, had not affected the business of Ramco Cements, the company said. “The company has suspended its clinker movement by rail,” the response said.

The company also noted, it had paid punitive charges of `68.3 lakh for over-loading to Southern Railways, albeit under protest, and had even notified the Railways regarding problems in the in-motion weigh bridge.

CAG red-flagged Anomalies in Freight Weight process of Railways in December 2014

New Delhi: The CBI may have revealed the under-weighment of freight transported by railways on massive scale, but the issue was red flagged by CAG in its report of December 2014. The government auditor found that out of 1,176 loading points, the railways did not have its own weighbridges in 759 points. “The railway board failed to ensure weightment of all freight traffic. A majority of loading points were not covered by weighbridges,” the CAG noted.

It added, “They were largely (65%) dependent on privately-owned weighbridges, especially for bulk consignments such as coal and iron ore.” It was also found that the railway administration failed to regularly check the performance of weighbridges which increased risk of revenue loss in carrying bulk consignments.

It was also noticed by the auditor that there were deficiencies in proper upkeep and maintenance of these weighbridges.

“There is thus a high risk of revenue loss in carrying of bulk consignments,” it said. In a stinging remark, the CAG said, “These checks were generally not being followed by the railway administration especially for private weighbridges. Performance of these checks were not being monitored.”

“These checks assume importance in view of the railways’ dependence on private weighbridges and the fact that a significant proportion of bulk commodities are weighed at private weighbridges,” it added. Noting that the over-aged weighbridges are required to be replaced timely to ensure correct weighment, the auditor’s scrutiny revealed that 31.78% of weighbridges manned by railways were over-aged while in private sidings around 40% were over-aged. Thus private sidings had a larger proportion of over-aged weighbridges.

It also noted that despite railway board’s repeated instructions, the zonal railways failed to ensure 100% weighment of loose traffic. The CAG had said, “Further, in view of the high percentage of overloading noticed in the test checked cases of parcel vans it is advisable that their weighment is also made compulsory so as to avoid leakage of revenue.”

Railways carried around 1,008 million tonne of freight during the year 2012-13 and earned Rs 85,262 crore which comprised 67% of the total revenues earned by the transporter.

Freight Scam: CBI suspects Manipulation in Software in Weigh Bridges

New Delhi: In its probe in railways freight scam, CBI has recovered images of 65 hard disks from the Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridge (EIMWBs) locations, which were allegedly manipulated to under-weigh the freight canons, thereby benefitting private companies.  These images have been sent for forensic examination to ascertain whether manipulation was done in the software by vendors, freight carriers and railway officials.

CBI sources said the agency is examining several documents recovered during searches and from railway officers in different states.  The six vendors involved in the weighing process are – ESSACE Digitronics Pvt Ltd, Digital Weighing Systems Pvt Ltd, Rice Lake Weighing Systems India Ltd, ScheckProcess India Ltd, R R Engineers and Consultation, Sanmar Weiging Systems Ltd and Sean Logistics.

According to some estimates based on the probe so far, the scam could be running into more than Rs 4200 crore. The weight of railway freight was shown less despite overloading which benefitted the private companies and vendors.

CBI has alleged that preliminary investigations have revealed manipulations in the software of static and in-motion weigh bridges that are used by railways for weighment purposes. Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridge (EIMWBs) have been developed by Indian Railways in consultation with Research Development and Standards Organization (RDSO). Around 200 such bridges have been installed at different locations throughout India to weigh freight in transit. Goods trains passing at the speed of 15 km per hour get automatically weighed by this system.

Sources said the system at several places was manipulated in such a manner that over loading of the wagon is concealed and weight is shown within the permissible limit. CBI suspects that highly sophisticated methods have been used to manipulate the software.

“The manipulation has been done through collusion among railway officials, private vendors and freight operators and is not only causing huge financial loss to the exchequer but also corresponding gain to private freight operators/private persons. It is damaging railway tracks, wagons and is affecting railway safety,” said a CBI officer.

CBI had conducted surprise checks in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, UP, Punjab, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, MP, Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Clinker Cargos that Rang Railway Alarm Bell

What triggered the massive CBI operation across the country that unearthed the multi-crore, hi-tech rail freight scam was an investigation by the Southern Railway vigilance department earlier this year, after the officials here became suspicious that a particular weighbridge in Tiruchirappalli Goods Yard was manipulating the figures for a cement major’s plant in south Tamil Nadu.

CBI RaidsSenior Southern Railway officials said their personnel became suspicious when the electronic in-motion weighbridge at the yard, which uses sensors to quantify the goods transported through railway wagons, was tampered with to show a lesser than actual weight of the freight. By doing this, the wagons managed to carry more load than is allowed under railway regulations, without having to pay punitive charges for overloading.

Over and above the financial loss to the Railways due to under-recovery, overloading leads to mechanical damage to the tracks, thereby endangering the lives of passengers.

The racket had as its members a service engineer of Chennai-based Senlogic Automation Private Ltd — the company that supplied and maintained the electronic weighbridge — who colluded with railway officials to under-report raw materials taken to a cement plant at Ariyalur owned by a leading Tamil Nadu-based company. After the malfeasance came to light, Southern Railway sealed the weighbridge, and filed a complaint with the anti-corruption branch of CBI’s Chennai unit.

According to the FIR dated February 17, the chief goods clerk of the goods yard, and the then chief goods supervisor, conspired with Senlogic service engineer Prakash to tamper with the software in the weighbridge so as to under-report the quantity of clinkers, a raw material used in cement production, sent to the company’s Ariyalur plant. All have been charged of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery.

Though the FIR put the loss to Railways at `1 crore (between 2012 and 2014), officials told that the potential loss from two weighbridges in the railway zone operated by Senlogic could be in the region of `200 crore in the last two years.

The potential loss from weighbridges in the railway zone operated by Senlogic was estimated to be around `200 crore in the last two years. This prompted the CBI to look closely at the functioning of railway weighbridges across the country, which led to the raids at facilities where they suspected similar manipulations.

The railway officials who were in charge of monitoring the weight of the consignments, have been charged with criminal misconduct as they failed to cross check the actual tonnage of the consignments despite the same weights repeatedly showing up on the monitor. One of the six firms approved to set up Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges, Senlogic operates seven facilities across various zones of Indian Railways, including the one in Tiruchy yard that was set up in 2012, officials said. On its website it lists former Chief of Railway Board M S Gujral as a mentor. An e-mail questionnaire sent to the company’s technical director R Ravichandran went unanswered. Other company staff confirmed that the accused Prakash was their colleague and was under the scanner.

CBI raids 5 railway units in MP, detects major coal theft

CBI officials carried out raids on Monday and Tuesday on five railway units in Madhya Pradesh and detected a major coal theft by manipulation in electronic-in-motion weighbridges. Raids were carried out at Singrauli railway station, Jaypee Bela Plant in Rewa, Beohari and Khanna Banjari area in Satna district.

Variations were detected in weighbridges installed at railway tracks near Singrauli railway station and Jaypee Bela Plant in Rewa.

Two hard disks of computers attached to weighbridges at Singrauli railway station were cloned for further investigations. A hard disk of Jaypee Bela Plant was also seized, CBI sources said.

“Difference of more than 4 tonne coal was detected at Singrauli, whereas 2 to 3 tonne shortage was found at Jaypee plant. Manipulation was done in computer data. We will send hard disks for cyber forensic examination soon and bring the accused officers to book,” said a CBI officer privy to information.

Coal received at thermal power stations is based on weight done with electronic-in-motion weighbridges. CBI officer said manipulation is done to under-load dispatches to government enterprises and over-load consignments to private companies.

Several senior railway officials are under scanner for their nexus with coal transporters.

In 2010 vigilance officers detected several cases of overloading of rakes on different railways. In 2011 railway board decided to install electronic in-motion weighbridges at originating and other strategic locations. As many as 190 such weighbridges were installed/ commissioned by December 2011. More were installed later.

CBI arrests senior Western Railway official for Corruption

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) laid a trap on a senior divisional engineer with the Western Railway in a graft case on Tuesday.

Acting on a complaint , the CBI caught S Meena, Senior Divisional Engineer with the Electrical Department of the Western Railways red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from the complainant on Tuesday evening. The money was allegedly a part of the bribe amount to be paid to the accused for awarding a contract relating to Annaul Maintenance Contract for air-conditioners on Western Railway, the CBI said.

The agency also conducted searches at the residence and the office of the accused in Mumbai and will continue to do the same on Wednesday. On Tuesday night, CBI teams searched his office, as well as his home at Budhwar Park in Cuff Parade. The team that raided Meena’s home seized property-related documents and bank account passbooks. “We asked for explanation about the cash and jewellery found during the raid,” a CBI official told. Meena will be produced before a special CBI court today.

“The complainant approached the agency with the grievance that he was asked to pay bribe for getting his contract through. A trap was then laid and Meena was caught red handed while accepting the first instalment of the bribe money,” said a senior officer from the agency.

A case has been registered under various sections of the IPC and certain sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Freight Scam in Railways: 2 Cement Cos. under CBI Scanner

New Delhi: Two private cement makers, one of them located in south India, are under the CBI scanner in its probe into the high-tech manipulations of Indian railways’ static and Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges (EIMWB) at 65 nation-wide locations for being alleged beneficiaries of the resultant under-weighment and under-invoicing.

The agency is likely to mention the roles of the two firms in their multiple FIRs, which are likely to be registered in the probe once the data gathered from the raids at the 65 locations is analysed, said an agency source. According to the source, the agency may take clarifications from a key member of the Railway Board, whose responsibilities include supervising the railways’ freight operations. The agency will also quiz other railway officials and officials of the six railways-approved private vendors running its 200 EIMWB — 65 of which were examined by it.

“Our raids, which were spread across 18 states, revealed major manipulations in the software and hardware of the weighment apparatuses. Among the key beneficiaries of the manipulations for achieving under-weighment and under-invoicing were the two cement makers, located in south-India and central India, as per preliminary findings.”

According to the source, at certain EIMWBs that were examined by the CBI, the software was programmed to ensure consistent under-weighment of wagons containing cement despite varying the rake’s speed including the prescribed 15 km/hour.

“The manipulations could have caused losses worth thousands of crores to the exchequer and also damaged the tracks since freight wagons were overloaded but programmed to stay concealed,” said a CBI source. “Even a 5% under-reporting of actual weight of freight leads to a difference of Rs 4,263 cr by 2012-13 figures,” said the source.

CBI initiates ‘thorough investigation’ into Rs.4200 Crore Rail Freight Scam under previous UPA regime

Several senior Railway officials in different Railway Zones are under Scanner for their Nexus with Coal Transporters

New Delhi: In what could snowball into another major scam during the UPA regime, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a probe into the loss of Rs.4200 crore to the Railways in freight. The agency said it conducted surprise checks at 65 locations last week where its officers found that goods being transported in trains are underweight in connivance with the railway officials and private companies.

It is perhaps the biggest ever operation as more than 500 CBI officers along with vigilance officers of Indian Railways from various Rail zones carried out countrywide joint surprise checks at 65 locations unearthing major irregularities in the weighment of freight carried in trains.

The agency will soon register multiple FIRs. Several senior officers of railways, private vendors and freight transporters are under the scanner.

Almost two-third of the revenue of Indian Railways’ comes from freight earnings. The irregularities are not only leading to losses of several thousand crores for the transporter but also weakening tracks on long routes where the freight wagons move.

coal scam“We have carried out surprise checks and found serious discrepancies,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad told. The checks were done along with the vigilance department of the Indian Railways.

In 2012-13, Indian Railways transported 1,008 million metric tonnes of freight, earning Rs 85,262 crore, which constitutes 67% of its total revenues. The railways collect freight charges from various transporters.

The charges are levied based on the weight of the goods that are loaded in the wagons. Railways use both static and in-motion weigh bridges for weighing.

Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridge (EIMWBs) have been developed by the railways in consultation with Research Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to plug the leakage of revenue and to avoid overloading of wagons. A goods trains passing at the speed of 15 kilometres per hour gets automatically weighed by this system.

Explaining the modus operandi, a senior official said, “The manipulations in weighment was done by tampering of the software, EIMWB hardware. The manual entries by the suspects led to significant loss of revenue for the railways. Even a 5% under-reporting of actual weight of freight leads to a loss of nearly Rs 4,200 crore. Such a manipulation also leads to overloading with adverse consequences for wear and tear of track and railway safety.”

These EIMWBs are located at 200 locations out of which CBI conducted checks in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata among others. During the checks, CBI sleuths also found that the quantum of under-weighment increased with an increase in speed of the rake.

The CBI cops also secured the EIMWBs locations with the help of digital forensic experts to prevent the tampering of the machine. “We also took a forensic image of the hard disc of the EIMWB to enable a digital forensic analysis to locate the ‘digital fingerprints’ of past manipulation in weighment,” said a senior CBI official.

Indian Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena acknowledged the checks were conducted by CBI. He, however, downplayed the enormity of the scandal. “This is a regular exercise that is carried out by the Indian Railways to check corruption. We had only asked CBI and our vigilance department to conduct the checks,” Saxena told.

Senior IAS Officer, three others booked for transferring Railway Land to Private Company

Roberts Ganj (RBGJ): A senior IAS officer and three others have been booked for allegedly transferring land belonging to Railways to a private company using fake documents.

A case was filed against former District Magistrate Pandhari Yadav, Railways Senior Divisional Engineer Santosh Gupta, PWD Executive Engineer I D Ram and a senior functionary of the private firm, at Robertsganj Kotwali last night following directions of a court, Investigating Officer U P Yadav said today.

Advocate Vijay Prakash Malviya had moved the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on December 22, 2012 alleging that the four accused had got the Railways’ land transferred to the company in 2012 for personal use with the help of fake documents.

CJM Vijay Chand Yadav had on February 2, 2015 directed the local police to register the case against them.

Meanwhile public demanded removal of those officials from public services by withdrawal of pleasure in terms of Art.310(2) by the President or Governor as appropriate, regardless of the outcome in the case, the pleasure can be withdrawn for reason of loss of trust, benefit of doubt and allegations of corruption while in responsible position of a Public Servant. Prosecution is for offences committed.

Cartels in Procurement Loot Indian Railways of Rs.10000 Crore a Year: E.Sreedharan

Sreedharan points out that by centralizing procurement powers, the Railway Board has accumulated enormous sum of money in the hands of few, and hugely enhanced rent-seeking power that encourages corruption
Dr.E.Sreedharan, former Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corp.
Dr. E. Sreedharan

New Delhi: The cash-strapped railways will end up saving Rs 10,000 crore annually if the railway board stops all centralized procurement, says a report by ‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan.

In his final report on ‘delegating tendering and commercial powers to general managers and other operating levels’ of railways, Sreedharan has pointed out that by centralizing procurement powers, the railway board has accumulated enormous sum of money in the hands of few, and hugely enhanced rent-seeking power that encourages corruption.

The committee heard views of senior officials. “Procurement is through cartel only, list of approved sources and cartels are synonymous … there is no item in which there is no cartel .. Committee feels that vendors thus continue to fleece at will,” Sreedharan says.

Couching the scale of the scandal and losses in an understated tone, the report says: “The committee after scrutinizing current practices and procedures followed at the board concludes that improving and decentralizing the system with empowerment and accountability shall effect annual economy to the tune of rupees five thousand crore in stores procurement and equal amount in works contracts.”

The committee’s final report, submitted on March 15, has recommended that the board should not take any commercial decision, and even procurement for its own needs should be done by the northern railway. It has called for decentralization of all those powers to general managers and lower levels.

Railways is the second biggest procurement agency after defence, spending almost Rs 1 lakh crore a year and the railway board procures almost half of it.

Sreedharan had submitted his interim report in November last year, and the ministry initiated some decentralization steps based on it.

In the final report, the Metro man says the board was set up originally to “make policies, plans, to lay broader principles of railway management, to frame rules, to inspect and guide the railways”. “And today the board is not performing these roles,” he says.

For detailed analysis, the committee took up a few procurement items like diesel, concrete sleepers, 53-S grade cement and rails and concluded that the railways could end up saving a staggering Rs 10,000 crore annually if decentralization is undertaken.

In case of diesel, of which railways is the largest buyer in India, the new tender has not been finalized for the last 15 months. In case of ‘weldable-CMS’ and ‘thick web switches’, contracts have not been finalized for a decade, the report says.

The report has also says that RDSO (Research Design and Standards Organisation) — the research arm of the railways — is dealing with vendors, technical evaluation of railway board tenders etc. “This committee believes that the above roles being morphed into one organization have serious conflicts with grave consequences for Indian Railways, emergence of extremely high rent-seeking behaviour and cartelization amongst vendors and collusion with officials that finally fleeces railways and eats into its body fabric like termite,” the report says.

“Innovation and experimentation take a big hit and lack of transparency and lack of accountability become the pre-dominant trait,” it says of the centralization of powers with the board. The observations come against the backdrop of several allegations against railway board members, and arrest of one of them in recent times.

“Indian Railways today is at a cross road. It has reached such a stage of centralization, non-transparency, inordinate delay and non-accountability in commercial and other decision-making that an incremental and evolutionary solution will not suffice. Instead, there is a need to shake the system out of its cultural status and to enthuse a new ethos to reorient it to the path of sound and fast effective business-oriented decision-taking,” the report says.

Sreedharan says the board “does not trust the business instinct, capacity and capability of its general managers, who are the highest railway authority in the field”.

In his interim report, Sreedharan had recommended that the general managers should have full powers with regard to works, stores procurement, services and commercial tenders among other things.

Sreedharan points out that the railways need to urgently reverse the trend of fast losing its traffic to road and air. Its freight share is down from 82% in 1960-61 to 30% in terms of tonnage and of passengers to 12%. In the next five years, it has to mobilize Rs 8.5 lakh crore, he points out.

“Perhaps no Indian institution has been subjected to review by more committees than the railways, but the irony is, most reports gather dust with their recommendations unimplemented,” Sreedharan says.

CBI may probe into Rs.100 Crore Railway Ticketing Fraud

New Delhi: Three days after news reporting fraud to the tune of Rs 100 crore pertaining to dubious ticket refunds, the Northern Railway, taking note of the matter, recommended the railway board to push for a CBI inquiry.

According to well-placed sources in the Northern Railway, a detailed report had been sent to the Railway Board informing how an organised syndicate had duped the organisation by claiming refund on fake tickets. “Report submitted to the Railway Board contains details of how the syndicate used reservation counters of far-flung and remote areas to claim refunds for the train mostly originating from the national capital. Report also recommends to launch a proper investigation across the country to find out the exact amount of losses to the railways,” he said. Northern Railway has also recommended an enquiry by the CBI seeing the pan-India presence of the gang and the modus operandi used by them. “In our report, we have recommended a proper investigation involving law enforcing agency of states,” said Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Neeraj Sharma.

Northern Railway’s report suggested that the CBI probe is best suited to crack the case seeing its unique modus operandi and the volume of fraud found to have taken place. “Multiplicity of agencies (state police in their respective state) may weaken or delay the investigation.  CBI, with its pan India network, with the help of local police, can investigate the case in a better way.  CBI enquiry also keep uniformity in the line of investigation across the country,” said a senior official.  Railway officials said the vigilance department of Northern Railway has sent a detailed report to the Railway Board, elaborating on the modus operandi of the gang and the estimated monetary loss that the Indian Railways have incurred in the last several months. Sources said the reports also details how the gang took advantage of a lack of mechanism for auto-update of reservation charts after departure of train from the source station.

Officials found that unidentified syndicates had claimed refund of about Rs 60 lakh, in the last six months, by cancelling tickets of trains originating from Delhi alone.

The gang members received passenger details from insiders and printed fake tickets. They then got these tickets cancelled at remotely located reservation counters after the train’s departure from the source station.

As per the rules, a PRS ticket can be cancelled from any reservation centre across the country and travellers can get 50 per cent refund of the ticket price after two hours of the departure of the train.

Railway authority believes that an early and timely investigation can save the Railways from further loss. “Fraudsters may still continue to claim refund by cancelling fake train ticket without any check from anywhere in the country causing loss to the railway. Early enquiry can help stop losses,” he added. The scam had come to the fore during a check by the vigilance department of the Northern Railway during the last six months.

“As the gang had its presence across all 16 Railway Zones and had impacted loss to Railways of about Rs.100-crore through ticketing scam, Northern Railway feels that separate probes by different state government could lead to a lack of uniformity and delay the probe,” he added.

Railway Minister acknowledge existance of Corruption in Railways

New Delhi: Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday acknowledged existence of corruption at various levels in his ministry and said the government is determined to weed it out through stringent action and putting in place a transparent system.

“There have been instances, allegations, complaints of corruption about corrupt practices at various levels… One of the members of the Railway Board is under suspension. I agree that we need to take corrective steps,” Prabhu said replying to questions in Rajya Sabha.

He acknowledged the existence of corruption and corrupt practices in areas including award of contracts and employment. He also admitted to instances of hoodwinking of people.

Prabhu said his ministry is trying to put in place a system in all award of contacts and introduce “utmost transparency” in other areas including appointments.

“We have implemented utmost transparency. We need to change the whole system… There is corruption at various levels… But we are committed to do everything to weed out corruption,” Prabhu said.  He also said that SDGMs in respective Zonal Railways and Production Plants are being given specific attention to contain the corruption.

“We need to take very stringent measures. We have sought the services of former CAG Vinod Rai… He is my advisor. We will take as many steps as possible in as many areas as desirable to prevent corruption,” the minister added.

In order to prevent hoodwinking of people, he said, the Railways have started a web-based interactive redressal mechanism where one can lodge a complaint using mobile. Update of the complaint can also be tracked.

Prabhu said corruption generally prevails if the system is susceptible to it.

The Railways Minister said the number of officers on whom punishments were imposed departmentally as a result of vigilance proceedings were 251 in 2012, 168 in 2013 and 231 in 2014.

Similarly, sanctions were given to CBI for prosecution of 15,16 and 13 officers respectively in those years, he said.

“Railways have well established systems, rules and procedures which guide its various functions. Taking corrective measures, as and when required, is a continuous process,” Prabhu said in the written reply.

“If any irregularity is detected, suitable disciplinary action is taken, depending upon the gravity of the charges and in consultation with the Central Vigilance Commission, in cases of involving Group A officers,” he added.

The Minister also highlighted the recent initiatives taken to prevent corruption including putting details of all tenders on website, stores procurement through e-tendering and reverse auctions, changes in the tatkal reservation process and on-line allotment of rakes among others.

ECR suspends Parasnath Railway Station clerk for Financial Misappropriation

Parasnath (PNME): Dhanbad Division of Eastern Central Railway (ECR) has issued a directive to its employees at all 87 railway stations to deposit daily cash collection at the end of each working day.

This order comes a day after the senior booking clerk of Parasnath railway station was suspended for his alleged involvement in financial misappropriation.  Employees have also been directed to keep update financial transactions regularly and maintain accounts, failing which, strong action will be taken.

“The recent directive is meant to check possible financial irregularities in the department. Apart from few other guidelines and directions, we have asked the employees of all 87 railway stations maintain accounts and deposit all cash amounts to the authorities concerned. Financial irregularities will not be tolerated”, said Senior DCM, Dhanbad Division Mr.Dayanand.

“The department has recently suspended senior booking clerk, Mukesh Kumar Singh, of Parasnath Railway Station, who allegedly siphoned Rs.68,000/- illegally.  Singh misappropriated cash collections from the unreserved ticket counter instead of depositing it to the concerned account or finance officials. The charge sheet against him was submitted on Wednesday,” said Dayanand.

According to information from Dhanbad railways, Hazipur vigilance team of ECR had on the evening of March 13, raided the unreserved ticket booking counter of Parasnath station and discovered financial irregularities committed by Singh.

“A sum of Rs 68,000 was collected by Singh and other employees after selling unreserved tickets at booking counters. Singh siphoned the collection without any information. Singh had previously misappropriated Rs 1.10 lakh from booking counter about a year ago. Consequently, departmental actions were also taken against him then”, said a Dhanbad division railway officer

Indian Railways duped to the tune of approx.Rs.100 Crore by Fraudsters

New Delhi:  In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind cheating syndicate, Indian railways has been duped to the tune of Rs 100 crore by fraudsters who would take refunds for used tickets by creating a fake copy of the same using stolen details within two hours after scheduled departures. The Railways has zeroed in on the biggest reason behind the perennial complaint of passengers not being able to get confirmed tickets even after turning up at the ticket counters at 8 am, when they open across India. This pan-Indian cheating came to light during vigilance checks by Northern Railway, and it was found out that for the last six months the unidentified conmen had claimed refund of about Rs 60 lakhs by cancelling tickets of train originating from national capital alone.

A senior railway official putting the total loss to over Rs 100 crore said: “If gone through the conservative estimate based on fraud detected in Delhi, in all possibilities the number will go up many times after taking into account similar frauds conducted in other cities, especially the tier two and three. Final figure can be calculated only after carrying out intensive checking and investigation across the country, but our initial estimate is roughly Rs 100 crore.”

This would also remind us on the vulnerabilities in the Information Security and Data Privacy and Policy Compliance parameters that proved to be vulnerable to attacks on entire Indian Railways.

Explaining the unique modus operandi of the gang, the senior railway officer added: “After procuring the passengers’ details either by hacking or assistance of an insider, the gang members would wait till ninety minutes from departure of the train. They would then approach any reservation counter in any part of the country and would ask the official to claim the refund citing his inability to travel.”  Officials added that gang members used place names like Vijayawada and Madurai and other remote areas in the South and North-east to claim the refund.

Railway sources told that an insider may be helping the miscreants by providing passengers details.

With this, Railways is now planning to investigate such cases across the country.  Once this type of fraud is curbed, there are ample chances of securing confirmed train tickets on popular routes by the general public.

This is why you can never book a ticket at 8 am

Also, an internal investigation revealed that every day, 4,000 confirmed berths would be hoarded by touts within one minute of the computer reservation system being thrown open to public.

The probe found that the touts, who sell tickets at a higher price to passengers in need, were exploiting a “facility” in the passenger reservation software. The facility allows someone who has already purchased a ticket to alter journey details and book another train within seconds at the last moment.

Touts would buy tickets for relatively less popular trains a day earlier, and then swap them for tickets on popular trains — Rajdhanis, Durontos and other long-distance trains — between 8 am and 8.01 am. This would take seconds since their booking details were already fed into the system.

“Touts would buy any ticket a day in advance and the next day, they would get ticket details changed. The booking clerk merely had to generate another PNR with the passenger details already fed into the system a day earlier. This took seconds,” Ajay Shukla, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, told media. “We have now disabled this facility for the first hour after the system opens,” he added.

The probe, launched after the Railways Ministry found a huge number of tickets being booked this way, also indicated that booking clerks and other insiders were involved in the racket. The ministry plans now plans to pinpoint the culprits and take action.

After disabling the facility for the first hour, the Railway Board officials monitored the booking pattern across the country for the past few days. Now, instead of 4,000 journey/train changes in the first minute, only a few such changes are made in the course of the day. “We believe those are genuine transactions by passengers altering their journeys,” Shukla said.

Delhi Metro bribery case: Alstom official to be tried in from May 23

लंदन London: A London court on Wednesday fixed May 23 as the date for the trial of Alstom Network UK and its two key former officials charged with bribing officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to secure contracts.

No pleas were entered during the hearing at the Southwark Crown Court on behalf of the two individuals, Graham Hill and Robert John Hallett.

The court approved the joining of Hill’s case to that of Hallett’s and Alstom Network UK.

A hearing was scheduled for April 20 to determine what form the next hearings will take later in the year, as there are legal arguments and dismissal applications to hear.

Both Hill and Hallett face similar charges of bribing DMRC officials during the Delhi Metro Phase 1 between August 1, 2000 and August 9, 2006.

Court documents state that Hill and Hallett ‘did corruptly give or agree to give’ the sum of Rs 19,895,000 disguised as payments in respect of a Consultancy Agreement with Indo European Ventures Pte Ltd dated September 12, 2001; and the sum of Rs 3,131,600 disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy Agreement with Global King Technology Ltd dated May 3, 2002.

The payments were given ‘as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract with the said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for a Train Control, Signalling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1’, the documents state.

Publicity Scam: CBI raids houses of 5 Railways officials from Fepozpur Division

फिरोजपुर Ferozpur (FZP): Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths on Tuesday raided houses of five railways officials booked for irregularities in the publicity works at railway stations in 2008-09. The team also confiscated records related to the case from Ferozepur division office of the railways.

The agency had booked five railway officials, including the then senior railway commercial manager (Sr DCM) Puran Chand Dudi, CMI Arvind Sharma, Naresh Sharma and Mohammad Yakub, both clerks in the commercial branch of the Divisional Railway Manager’s office and the then superintendent of Ludhiana railway station R K Sharma.

A contract of publicity work at the railway stations of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar was allotted to a firm – Shree Agrsen Advertisers – by Sr DCM on May 22, 2008 for Rs 6 crore for a period of three years. The mean commencing date in the tender was allegedly fixed wrongly contrary to the prevalent rules to enable the contractor run his contract for four years against the allotted three years.

It was also alleged that the officials concerned reportedly manipulated the security money, which was supposed to be deposited by the contractor with the railways, before issuing of allotment letter to the contractor to start the work.

Similar frauds have also been reportedly committed in the contracts of publicity work allotted for Srinagar railway station, including the diesel multiple unit (DMU) running in the Kashmir Valley.

When contacted, the divisional railway manager of Ferozepur division Naresh Chander Goyal said he could not comment on the issue as the CBI was probing the matter. He, however, said the department would extend full cooperation to the investigating team to bring out the facts.

Enforcement Directorate attaches Railway Engineer’s properties worth Rs.2.9 Crore

Vanimisetty Gopala Reddy
Vanimisetty Gopala Reddy,

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): The Enforcement Directorate has provisionally attached properties valued at Rs 2.90 crore of a senior railway divisional engineer, against whom CBI had filed a chargesheet under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI had earlier charged that railway’s Senior Divisional Engineer Vanimisetty Gopala Reddy was in possession of a large number of movable and immovable properties, including cash, bank balances and gold jewellery which were disproportionate to his known source of income, KSVV Prasad, Joint Director of ED’s Hyderabad Zonal Office, said today.

Based on the chargesheet, the ED had registered a money laundering case against Reddy and his wife V Naga Surya Padma Sri under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

The ED’s investigations under PMLA revealed that Gopala Reddy had made large number of investments in the name of his wife and two children, who do not have any known source of income, Prasad said in a statement.

During investigation, the proceeds of crime were identified in the form of bank deposits, shares, gold jewellery and immovable properties, the statement said.

In all, 18 immovable properties valued at Rs 1.23 crore and 44 movable properties of about Rs 1.67 crore (including cash of Rs 73.80 lakh found in their house during the CBI search) were attached vide a provisional attachment order dated January 21.

“The total value of attached properties is about Rs 2.90 crore,” Prasad said.

CBI Officer meets Central Railway GM over unscrupulous TCs involved in money extortion

मुंबई Mumbai: The CBI joint director recently met the Central Railway General Manager to complain about corruption among ticket checkers (TCs) and railway policemen and how they extort money from commuters. The unprecedented move follows last week’s assault on CBI officials by TCs at theTilakNagar station.

After a meeting with the GRP commissioner, Keshav Kumar, joint director of the CBI’s anti-corruption bureau, requested the GM to ensure steps to stop such corruption.

Last week, three TCs, Amit Singh, Naresh Kumar and Vijay Hooda, assaulted CBI officers in plainclothes at Tilak Nagar station after they were intercepted for knocking out money from ticketless travellers. The three would reportedly prey on passengers for outstation trains at LTT, often demanding Rs 1,000-1,200. The travellers would pay up so that the harassment would not lead to them missing their trains. There have been complaints of manhandling against them.

After the incident, the CBI team lodged a complaint with the GRP against the three for assaulting public servants and criminal intimidation. Kumar then decided to take up the issue with the authorities concerned so that unscrupulous TCs and railway cops stop harassing commuters. The officer also suggested that the railway vigilance department keep a watch on such activities.

“Most of the unscrupulous checkers do not have a fixed duty. They roam around without informing their seniors about their assignments and commit such offences,” said a CBI officer. He pointed out they usually targeted poor people who are headed from Tilak Nagar station to LTT with their luggage to board outstation trains. The culprits allegedly pressure people to pay for goods more than permissible limit, without examining the weight.

$772m penalty for French firm facing Delhi Metro bribe charge

वाशिंगटन Washington: French power and transportation company Alstom SA has agreed to pay $772 million in penalties to the United States to resolve allegations that it bribed government officials in multiple foreign countries. Justice Department officials said on Monday the company would plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The development could have an impact in India as Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has already charged Alstom Network UK Ltd, a British subsidiary of the engineering major, with paying more than 3 million euros (Rs 24.3 crore approximately) in bribes to officials and agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to secure train control, signalling and telecommunications system contracts for Metro Phase 1. Alstom reportedly paid off the money disguising it as consulting fees.

The US settlement marks the largest ever criminal fine levied by the country against a company for violation of foreign bribery laws. The justice department said Alstom paid more than $75 million to secure $4 billion in projects around the world.

Earlier in the day, Britain’s SFO charged a second British subsidiary of Alstom, Alstom Power Ltd, with bribing officials to secure a power contract in Lithuania.

CBI Special Court sentences Railway employee to 3-year jail

तिरुचिरापल्ली Tiruchirappalli (TPJ): A CBI special court here on Thursday sentenced a senior divisional engineer (SDE) of the Southern Railway (Trichy) to three years of imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs.2 Lakh on him in a bribery case.

CBI special court judge M M Krishnan, however, kept the sentence under suspension and allowed the convict to file an appeal within a month.

The case relates to a bribery charge against P V Reddy, SDE, Southern Railway (Trichy). According to the prosecution, M Pandidurai, who was carrying out civil works in the railways under contract, had approached Reddy to clear his pending bills in November 2008. The SDE had demanded Rs 1 lakh as bribe from Pandidurai to clear the bills.

Unwilling to grease the palm of the SDE, Pandidurai had knocked on the doors of the CBI’s anti-corruption wing by way of a complaint.

A CBI team laid a trap to catch Reddy red-handed. As per the team’s advice, the contractor went to the SDE office to hand over the amount. When Reddy accepted the bribe amount from Pandidurai, CBI sleuths nabbed him, according to CBI’s senior public prosecutor N Nagendran, who argued the case successfully.

Reddy was arrested then and lodged at the Madurai central prison. Later, he was granted bail.

The CBI filed chargesheet in June 2009 before the special court. As the officer refused the charges, the case went on trial and came to an end on Thursday.

During the trial, cell phone call details between the officer and the contractor helped the CBI to prove its case. The judge, who examined 13 witnesses, delivered the judgment. However, the convict’s jail sentence was kept in suspension by the judge.

“The judge suspended his jail sentence and has allowed him to go on appeal within one month. When the punishment period is of three year or less than three years suspension of sentence is possible,” Nagendran said

Elusive ticket touting scam accused surrenders

मुंबई Mumbai: The Railway Protection Force unit of Central Railway, currently investigating a multi-crore touting scam using speed software, got a boost after the kingpin of the first such scam the RPF broke, surrendered in front of the court last week.

Who is the prized catch?

Shamsher Nisar Alam, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district, was wanted by the RPF since March this year when they had busted a major touting racket wherein a Ghatkopar-based collegian was also apprehended.

As reported earlier, Shamsher was declared an absconder by the 35th railway court at CST, after the latter allowed its plea to do so. This proclamation under Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the RPF to move ahead to the next step of attaching Shamsher’s property, in case he failed to appear before court for the next hearing – which was scheduled on December 9.

What the court ordered for Shamsher?

On December 9, Shamsher surrendered before court and while releasing him on a bail amount of Rs15,000, the court directed him to present himself before the RPF every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next one month.

A senior RPF officer told: “After a month, he will have to appear before the RPF every Sunday till the complaint is filed by us. He has been asked to completely cooperate with the investigations.” Another senior RPF officer said: “It will really give our investigations a boost, because we believe Shamsher is in the know of several aspects of the speed software being used by some touts to corner tickets online as well as several touting rackets running within the city. We are confident we will get to the bottom of this matter.”

First speed software-aided touting scam busted

The March raid, carried out after two months’ surveillance by CR’s commercial and vigilance departments, was the first time the authorities managed to lay hands on automation software that was allowing touts to corner tickets on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website at a faster speed, than transactions made on the website by bonafide passengers.

The officer added: “The fact that we pursued Shamsher and forced him to surrender just shows our commitment in the fight against touting. It is affecting thousands of people on a daily basis, and especially during the festival seasons where, despite the railways running so many special and routine trains, normal people still fail to get tickets.”  Shamsher was booked under the following sections:

Section 82 – It contains the procedure to declare a person an ‘absconder’ if the person fails to appear before the court even after being served a summon and also avoids an arrest warrant issued against him.

Section 83 – Declaring an accused an absconder as described in section 82 is the final step to get the person to appear before court. If the person fails to attend court even after this, Section 83 empowers the court to attach the property of the person.

Ex-MD of Alstom Transport India to face bribery charge in UK

लंडन London: A former managing director of Alstom Transport India, the first person to face charges in connection with a bribery investigation into the UK subsidiary of the French train and turbine giant, will appear in court next month.

At a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London earlier this month, Robert Hallett, former managing director of Alstom Transport India, was among some of the company officials requisitioned to appear before Southwark Crown Court in reference to the allegations.

A preliminary hearing date will be fixed for him when he appears before the court on November 3.

A number of officials from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) also allegedly received bribes from the UK firm, a British court was told at the hearing on October 6.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had issued legal proceedings against Alstom Network UK Limited on bribery charges in India, Poland and Tunisia.

The fraud investigator believes the firm may have paid around USD 8.5 million in bribes over a period of six years to secure contracts in Delhi, Warsaw and Tunis.

Simon Farrell for the prosecution laid out details of alleged recipients of the bribe payments in all three regions but did not name any officials from DMRC.

A case management hearing will now take place on January 28, 2015, and the deadline for evidence to be submitted to the court is November 18.

The detailed charge in reference to the DMRC states: “Alstom Network UK Limited (formerly Alstom International Limited) together with certain of its directors and others between the 1st day of August 2000 and the 9th day of August 2006 did corruptly give or agree to give payments to an official or officials or other agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.”

It states that

i) the sum of INR 19,895,000 disguised as payments ii) the sum of 3,131,600 Euros disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract with the said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for a Train Control, Signaling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1 (‘SYS 1’).

“An offence contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.”

The SFO investigation commenced as a result of information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland concerning the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK Limited. The UK’s financial watchdog had filed charges back in July.

Chinese senior Railway Engineer Sentenced to Death for Graft

बीजिंग Beijing:  A former top Chinese railway official was convicted of taking nearly $8 million in bribes and given a suspended death sentence, a court said Friday.

The ruling against Zhang Shuguang, formerly the Deputy Chief Engineer for the now-defunct Ministry of Railways, came more than a year after the former railway minister Liu Zhijun was convicted of corruption and also received a suspended death sentence as part of a broader anti-graft campaign under President Xi Jinping.

Suspended sentences are generally commuted to life in prison after two years.

The ruling Communist Party and its government are eager to rein in the rampant corruption, which senior leaders say threatens the party’s rule.

Liu and Zhang oversaw the rapid expansion of high-speed rail in China but also fostered a vast and deeply corrupt ministry empire that ran its own courts and police and commanded a massive budget.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court said Zhang’s crimes deserved the death penalty, but the lesser sentence was given because Zhang showed contrition and the graft money had been recovered.  All of Zhang’s personal assets will be confiscated, the court said.

IRCTC Tout Scam: CR spares school kids whose tickets have been blocked

As a relief to students, the central railway authorities have decided to help the 550-odd school children and their teachers whose tickets got frozen as part of the investigations into a multi-crore ticket touting scam busted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

These tickets had all been booked online from the IRCTC website by the touts arrested as part of the scam. Although their are some legal obstacles, railways has chalked out a plan to ensure that students’ travel unhindered. This has however, not gone down well with some railway officials.

The decision was taken by General Manager, Central Railway Mr.S.K.Sood and was conveyed to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), when the latter’s Managing Director Dr.A.K.Manocha came calling upon Sood. Narendra Patil, Chief Spokesperson of CR said, “The decision was taken by the general manager so that these children don’t suffer by missing their school-sponsored study tours. A note has been handed to the IRCTC about this.”

The railways have found out that the confiscated tickets – more than 4,500 of them worth over Rs.2 crores – are now the property of the court and the railways cannot de-freeze them without the consent of the court. The entire process would take up considerable time.

To overcome the legal glitch, the railways has come up with an alternate plan. They will allow these children to buy tickets afresh and then have them confirmed by the railways. Among the schools which have had tickets of their children frozen include the Byramji Jeejibhoy Parsi Convent School at Charni Road, the Convent of Jesus and Mary School at Fort, the PG Garodia school at Ghatkopar, Don Bosco school at Borivali and the SM Shetty school at Powai.

“Among the blocked tickets were 550 tickets booked by five schools that had planned trips to Goa, Mangalore and Rajkot,” a CR official said. “Some educational institutions approached the Union human resource development minister, Smriti Irani, who asked the CR top brass to find a way out for their smooth travel.”

A section of officials are not too happy about the de-freeze or the leniency shown to schools. “The fact remains that many schools, instead of approaching the railway authorities for group bookings, approach travel agents without verifying the latter’s antecedents. It sends out a wrong signal. It should be a lesson to all schools. There have been earlier cases too of school children going on study tours on tickets booked from dubious sources,” said one of the officials.

Subversion of IRCTC online Ticket Booking system helped touts book tickets

मुंबई Mumbai: The multi-crore ticket touting scam busted by Central Railway’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) unit and the commercial department has unearthed another disturbing truth about the large-scale subversion of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) online ticket booking system.

The RPF’s interrogation of scam kingpin Kulbir Singh, who made the automation software that was helping touts corner most of the seats on IRCTC’s website, has revealed that a couple of websites (names withheld for the sake of domain name privacy to protect original IRCTC website) were using the IRCTC acronym, mirroring the IRCTC’s booking process, and allowing touts to corner tickets much faster than any bonafide passenger could manage.

When tried out the sites, one of them didn’t open whereas the other was functional. The functional one actually advertises itself as the one-stop solution for people wanting to book tickets on IRCTC with a promise “to help you win the tatkal competition 100% free”.

Alok Bohra, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Central Railway, confirmed to media the development and said an official letter to the IRCTC had been dispatched about this. “It’s their duty to block these sites so that bonafide passengers are not put at a disadvantage by these touts,” Bohra said.

Sunil Kumar, Group General Manager (Information Technology), IRCTC, said the sites were unauthorised and that action would be taken against them.

RPF officials, meanwhile, have also written to Google for details of the various e-mail IDs held by the 12 arrested touts so that more transactions and ticketing details could be ferreted out of them.

“It’s just not enough that we arrest touts and recover tickets from them. It is necessary that the IRCTC website is strengthened against such automation software. The IT department of IRCTC should come down heavily on such websites so that thousands of passengers logging on to the IRCTC website are not cheated. Unless this case is taken to its logical conclusion, the recovery of crores of rupees will be of no value to the bonafide passenger,” said a senior railway official.

The scale of the scam can be gauged from the fact that the recovery of tickets as well as their value is more than all the tickets confiscated by the RPF unit of CR between January and September this year — 2,865 tickets worth Rs.83.65 lakh. The recovery in the speed software touting scam so far has crossed 4,000 tickets with a total value of more than Rs.2 crore.

UK’s Serious Fraud Office bribery story doesn’t hold up: E.Sreedharan

Dr.E.Sreedharan, former Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corp.
Dr. E.Sreedharan, former Managing Director, DMRC

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: A day after a British court was told that a number of unnamed officials or agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation were involved in a bribery scam, the former DMRC Managing Director, E.Sreedharan, has responded saying that “there are very many tiers, individuals and agencies involved [in the tendering process] and the decision cannot be influenced by bribing one or two individuals.”

Spelling out the procedure by which DMRC floats tenders and finalises the contracts, Dr.Sreedharan said that the Corporation “has a strict policy of not allowing any intermediaries to our office. Tenderers are not allowed to communicate or get in touch with any DMRC officials during tender finalisation.”

He added: “The story does not therefore hold water. If at all bribe has been paid, it must have been to individuals outside DMRC with a view to siphon back the amount to individuals of Alstom network, U.K.”

Dr. Sreedharan said DMRC had a very structured and transparent procedure for finalising all contracts and during the year 2000-2006 it had a team of General Consultants headed by PCI (Pacific Consultants International) of Japan to assist it in all areas. The tender papers were prepared by them, tenders received and processed by them and sent to DMRC for acceptance.

He said: “Tenders are generally considered in two stages. First there is a pre-qualification of intending tenderers. The General Consultants process the pre-qualification papers and send their recommendations to DMRC. DMRC has then an appraisal Committee consisting of HODs who scrutinise these recommendations and put up to a tender committee consisting of Directors. The tender committee puts up their recommendations to the M.D. and after his acceptance papers are sent to JICA, the lending agency, for scrutiny and clearance.”

“The next stage is invitation of financial bids from the pre-qualified tenderers. The same process and procedure is followed while evaluating the financial bids and the same is again sent to JICA for scrutiny and clearances,” he concluded.

Unnamed DMRC officials got bribes from Alstom, UK court told

लंदन London: A number of unnamed officials or agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had either received or agreed to receive bribes from the UK subsidiary of French train and turbine giant Alstom, a British court has been told.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had issued legal proceedings against Alstom Network UK Limited on bribery charges in India, Poland and Tunisia.

The fraud investigator believes the firm may have paid around USD 8.5 million in bribes over a period of six years to secure contracts in Delhi, Warsaw and Tunis.

At a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, Robert Hallett, former managing director of Alstom Transport India, was among some of the company officials requisitioned to appear before the court in reference to the allegations.

Prosecutor Simon Farrell laid out details of alleged recipients of the bribe payments in all three regions but did not name any officials from DMRC.

A case management hearing will now take place on January 28, 2015, and the deadline for evidence to be submitted to the court is November 18.

The detailed charge in reference to the DMRC states: “Alstom Network UK Limited (formerly Alstom International Limited) together with certain of its directors and others between the 1st day of August 2000 and the 9th day of August 2006 did corruptly give or agree to give payments to an official or officials or other agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.

It states that “i) a sum of Rs 19,895,000 disguised as payments in respect of a ii) the sum of euro 3,131,600 disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract with the said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for a Train Control, Signalling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1 (‘SYS 1’).”

“An offence contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.”

The SFO investigation commenced as a result of information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland concerning the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK Limited.

The UK’s financial watchdog had filed charges back in July.

IRCTC official from Mumbai to be quizzed in ticket touting scam

मुंबई Mumbai:  The Railway Protection Force, investigating a ticket touting racket running into Rs.2.00 Crore, will question an IRCTC official from Mumbai after his phone number cropped up in the call log of the accused.

So far, 12 accused have been arrested. The kingpin, Kulbir Singh, had developed a software to speed up the ticket booking process on IRCTC website. “We are going through the call records of the accused and more arrests are likely,” said senior divisional security commissioner, Alok Bohra, RPF (CR).

Besides Singh, the RPF has arrested Guru Patel who had clicked a selfie on co-accused Kalpesh Shah’s iPhone 6, which had helped identify Patel.

Ticket touting scam: Key IRCTC Officer under scanner

मुंबई Mumbai: Investigations into possibly the biggest-ever railway touting scam, involving tickets worth over Rs2 crore and counting, now point to a Mumbai-based senior official of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for his proximity to some of the arrested touts. The scam involves usage of an automation software to illegally speed up the ticket booking process on IRCTC’s website and, ironically, this official holds a sensitive post in the corporation. Senior railway officials investigating the scam termed this development ‘very disturbing’.

Investigators told that the official in question seemed to have been in touch with some of these touts even after the scam broke out on September 24. This official’s name came up during interrogation of the arrested touts as well as checking of their cellphones, the investigators said, adding that call data records of several of these touts were being retrieved for investigative analysis.

“Investigations into whether this big cartel of software developer, marketeer and touts was getting insider help from someone in the IRCTC are now in an advanced stage. Around 53% of all tickets are booked on the IRCTC website. To think that some senior official at IRCTC itself might be in touch with these people who were circumventing the system and putting millions of bona fide passengers at a disadvantage is a very grave matter,” said one of the investigators.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) said that, as of Sunday, details of 4,506 tickets had been retrieved from one iMac, 45 CPUs, 10 pendrives and 11 mobile phones confiscated from the 12 arrested touts. “These tickets have a cumulative value of Rs.2.08 crore. It is possibly the biggest recovery of tickets in a touting case so far in the railways,” the investigator said.

Centred around a software developed by an Ahmedabad-based individual named Kulbir Singh, the scam involved a whole set of travel agents and touts using this software to surpass some of the ticket-booking procedures on the IRCTC website and book several tickets within seconds of the website opening. Railway officials probing the scam said the software allowed these touts to fill in all the requisite details the previous night itself and keep it ready for the morning when the website opens for booking.

“The software allowed the creation of multiple IP addresses, would link all these forms to various bank accounts of these touts and, at the touch of a button, book hundreds of tickets at one go. The software even allowed all the forms and ticket details to be saved in PDF format in the tout or agent’s computer for future reference,” said another railway official.

Touts’ software booked 2000 Tickets a minute

The gang behind Rs 2.82-crore scam employed several thousand usernames, used powerful software that generated over a hundred PNR numbers at a click.

The Railway Protection Force investigation, into one of the biggest e-ticket tout scams, revealed that the gang of touts had several thousand IRCTC user names and a powerful software that can book over 2,000 tickets in the first minute as soon as the tatkal quota opened at 8 am.

Investigations so far revealed that the scam is estimated to be worth Rs 2.82 crore, and the Railways are in the process of blocking 3,000-plus tickets.

The software enabled the touts to prefill reservation data and feed it into the IRCTC server, and thus book the tickets instantaneously. It generated between 25 to 136 PNR numbers in one click.

The RPF is now taking the help of a student accused in an earlier case to study and decode the software. “Shockingly, from the seized digitial assets, only a few folders have yet been opened, leading to such a large number and value of tickets. Details of over 15 folders are still being downloaded,” said Senior Divisional Commissioner Alok Bohra. “Once complete, it will lead to a multi-crore scam. The figure so far has touched Rs 2.82 crore, and many folders are still to be restored,” Bohra said.

The gang developed an automation software that enabled them to fill forms on the IRCTC website at a mass level and facilitate e-ticket bookings between 8 am and 8:01 am as soon as the site opened.

In this way, the site was not being hacked but multiple forms were being simultaneously filled in from different IP addresses. It used to generate between 25 to 136 PNR numbers in one click.

“The gang did not have just the yet-tobe-marketed iPhone 6L, but also many other expensive digital assets. They must have bought them from the black market and used all of them to faciliate the racket by storing data, generating the software and coding it. The investigating is an ongoing process and many more details are yet to be decoded. Just this much has yielded so much of value,” Bohra added.

The scam came to light late September following the arrest of two accused, Rajendra Kumar Jaiwantraj Bafna and Mahesh Rajendrakumar Bafna from Govandi, and the recovery of 478 e-tickets worth Rs 9. 33 lakh from them.

During interrogation, Mahesh revealed details of a shop in Virar, which was raided on September 25. The raid led to the seizure of 850 e-tickets worth Rs 39.52 lakh and the arrest of two accused, Kalpesh Shah and Sandeep Parekh. They had 1,400 identities on the IRCTC website, and using an illegal software had generated 136 PNR numbers in a single slot.

During the raid, five mobiles (Iphone 6L, iPhone 5S, LG-3, Samsung Note 3, Noka Lumia), 6 pen drives, 9 CPU and one Apple I-Mac desktop were seized.

“Interrogations of Kalpesh and Sandeep led to the further seizure of 950 e-tickets worth Rs.26,93,514. Recovery is still continuing from 18 folders still to be retrieved with total tickets about 1,777 from one of the pen drives from Kalpesh,” an officer who was part of the raid said.

The investigation also threw up the names of two key persons involved in the scam, Kulbir Singh and Guru Patel. While Kulbir, an English literature graduate and a teacher, developed the software, Guru was the kingpin who distributed and operated the software.

Following a further tip-off, on September 27 Guru was arrested from his residence in Dharavi and two CPUs and three mobile phones were recovered.

It was then learnt that the software developer, Kulbir Singh, was based in Ahmedabad. A team was despatched to Gujarat the same night, but as Kulbir was not found, his father-in-law was questioned.

Kulbir was eventually traced to Charoti Naka, Dahanu, where he was arrested and a laptop, two mobile phones, data card and a wi-fi port were seized.

Blocked train e-Tickets hit pupils’ educational tours

Massive online ticketing tout scam running into crores of rupees leaves students with pre-bookings stranded, forcing agents to make alternative arrangements. The ongoing investigation into the massive e-ticketing tout scam has badly hit educational tours of students, besides thousands of other commuters. The Railways are in the process of mass blocking thousands of e-tickets, throwing into jeopardy the schedules of student tour groups that had already done bookings. Among those left in the lurch were a group of 150 students who undertook an educational tour to Hyderabad organised by Modern Tours. They were stranded there four days ago when their confirmed return tickets to Mumbai were blocked as their PNR numbers were suspected to be part of the biggest-ever touting racket worth crores of rupees. Harsh Kotak of Modern Tours said it was not fair for tickets to be randomly blocked in this manner. “On October 1 we were to return by Hussain Sagar Express, but found our tickets blocked. The school and parents were expecting us back, but we had no way to return,” Kotak said. “Fortunately, a Railway manager helped us and we managed to return. But it was unfair of the Railways,” he said. “Other related issues such as hotel bookings, etc cannot be changed at the last minute.”

Alternative arrangements

Similarly, another agent in Kandivli said he booked tickets for hundreds of students in batches for educational tours to Kerala via Konkan Railway from October 20. “But since the PNRs were blocked earlier this week, we are now forced to make arrangements to take the students by buses,” he said. “The Railways should not cancel tickets in this manner. Earlier, the vigilance department used to issue newspaper ads with PNR details, asking ticket holders to prove their identities,” said Shailesh Goyal, former member of Railway Zonal Users Consultative Committee. “They should revert to that practice. It’s not correct to block tickets and inconvenience people.” A Railway official said blocking of PNR numbers in the folders retrieved from touts is essential as investigations are ongoing. “Tickets booked by Modern Tours and the Kandivali agent were found among these folders, hence they were blocked. We appeal to schools to book tickets from official sources only,” the IRCTC official said.

IRCTC Tout Scam: Creator of Software for multiple train reservation ticket bookings arrested

मुंबई Mumbai:  RPF Central Railway unit alongwith CR Commercial and Vigilance departments busted what might be one of the biggest ever tout operations, in which cost of tickets booked fraudulently was approx. Rs.2.00 Crore.  Over the past few days RPF have arrested travel agency owners and their accomplices involved in the racket.  However, its biggest catch was an Ahmedabad based software developer, who was making and distributing ‘automation’ software that helped agents to break the queue on IRCTC website for booking multiple tickets at one go.

Software developer Kulbir Singh was indeed a surprise packet. He’s a post-graduate in English and gives tuition when not making various types of software to circumvent lengthy government accounting or ticket-buying formats.

The story began with the arrest of father-son duo of Rajendra and Mahesh Bafna from Govandi. RPF personnel recovered 478 e-tickets worth Rs.9.3 lakh from them.

After interrogating the two, RPF picked up one Kalpesh Shah and his accomplice Sandeep from Virar on September, 25th and recovered 61 tickets, 5 mobile phones, including i-phone 6L, 6 pen drives, 9 CPUs and an Apple I-Mac computer from Shah’s Virar office.  From Shah’s pendrive, RPF got clues about another 850 tickets worth Rs.39.52 lakh.  The folders on Shah’s computers yielded information on another 901 e-tickets worth Rs.26.93 lakh.

Shah’s interrogation threw up the name of one Guru Patel, who was distributing the software to smaller travel agents and touts, and Kulbir Singh.

Patel was picked up from Dharavi on Saturday and Singh from Charoti Naka area in Dahanu. RPF officials said his father-in-law, Mahesh Balotia, had helped them track down Singh. RPF are now on the lookout for one Salman, who Singh claimed he worked for.

“It’s not as if he hacked into IRCTC website or its server. The software developed by Singh is a sort of an automation software that allows a user to book tickets within the first few minutes of reservation counters being opened. It gives them the opportunity to book tickets faster than others who have logged in, or are standing in queue at counters. We hope to get to the bottom of this to root out the menace for ever,” said Alok Bohra, senior commandant, RPF, CR/Mumbai.

Singla never spoke to me about Kumar’s appointment: Bansal

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today told a special court that his nephew Vijay Singla, facing trial in the Rs 10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery case, “never spoke” to him on appointment of accused Mahesh Kumar, then a Railway Board member, to any post.

Deposing as a prosecution witness in the case, Bansal said that Singla, chargesheeted by CBI for allegedly demanding Rs 10 crore from Kumar for his appointment as Member (Electrical), had visited him thrice during his tenure as the Railway Minister but never talked about Kumar’s appointment.

“Accused Vijay Singla never spoke to me about the appointment of accused Mahesh Kumar for any post,” Bansal told Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma.

Bansal appeared before the court in pursuance to fresh summons issued on September 16. He was initially summoned as a witness for September 16 but on that day, he was granted exemption from personal appearance on health grounds.

During his deposition, which remained inconclusive today, Bansal said that Kumar was the seniormost eligible person for appointment as Member (Staff) in the Railway Board and he was promoted to that post during his tenure as minister which ended on May 10, 2013.

He submitted that about the time when Kumar was due for promotion, posts of Member (Staff), Member (Mechanical) and Member (Traffic) were to fall vacant but Member (Electrical), which the accused preferred, would have been available only in September 2014.

Bansal said that prior to his appointment as Member (Staff) on May 1, 2013, Kumar had met him in his office in first week of April 2013 and spoke about his specialisation in signals and put across his case for appointment as Member (Electrical).

“I just heard him then. When I discussed briefly the matter with the Chairman, Railway Board, that was the time when I learnt that the post of Member (Electrical) was to fall vacant only in September 2014,” he told the court.

Bansal said that when he had gone to Mumbai for an awards function on April 16 and 17, 2013, he had met Kumar but there was no talk about his appointment as Member (Electrical).

“In the later part of the day on April 17, 2013, I returned to Delhi and he (Kumar) did not meet me in Delhi. As stated earlier, the Chairman, Railway Board had brought the proposal of appointment as Member (Staff) on April 18, 2013 to me personally and I had approved it,” he said.

Kumar had met him a third time after his file was cleared for appointment as Member (Staff), Bansal said.

“I told him that I had sent his file for the appointment as Member (staff) and that is the end of it as far as I am concerned,” he told the court.

“Attention of the witness is drawn to the file….Filling up of the post of Member (Staff) Railway Board, and after going through the same, he states that the said file was brought to him by the Chairman, Railway Board, Vinay Mittal himself on April 18, 2013. He signed it and approved the proposal and returned it to Vinay Mittal….There and then,” the court noted while referring to Bansal’s statement.

“Some clarification is required by senior PP for CBI from the investigating officer (IO) and the IO is out of station. Therefore further examination-in-chief has been deferred,” the court said.

During the day’s proceeding, it also recorded the statement of another prosecution witness, K A Sivadas, Under Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The court had on March 11, this year framed charges against 10 accused in the case under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

It had framed charges against Singla, Mahesh Kumar, Managing Director of Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Limited N R Manjunath, alleged middlemen Ajay Garg and Sandeep Goyal and co-accused Rahul Yadav, Sameer Sandhir, Sushil Daga, C V Venugopal and M V Murali Krishan.

Chairman, RRB/Bhopal approach Cyber Slueths on Fake RRB website offering jobs

Bhopal (BPL):  The Chairman of Railway Recruitment board (RRB) Bhopal has on Monday approached state cyber cell headquarters taking a proactive step to trace a recruitment racket who created a fake website to trick job aspirants into paying up to Rs 300 to 500 as fee for applying form a job that never was.

Officials believe many must have already fallen prey to their trap. “We don’t want innocent jobless people to get into this scam. We have informed the matter to the police to get these people behind bars,” says Mahesh Chandra Panth, Chairman RRB Bhopal.

The tricksters have created a fake website with the url www.irrbpl.org, claiming it to be that of the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), Bhopal. They then gave hypertext links to RRB’s official website http://www.rrbbpl.nic.in/so, anybody logging on to the fake site and clicking on a link was taken to the official site, adding credibility to the fraudsters’ claims.

This duplicate portal with similar layouts contains a write up that detailed the history of RRB since its establishment. The fraudsters have invited applications for 2876 posts of trackman, 4082 helpers, 1239 peons and 3617 ticket collectors on their website asking registration and payment of Rs 300 and Rs 500 from reserved and general category candidates as processing fee. And the last date of submitting application is October 10.

“They have tried their best to make their fake website appear genuine, but made a mistake. They have invited applications for the post of trackman, helpers and peons which are not RRB’s job. These posts are filled up Railway Recruitment Commission (RRC), Jabalpur. The gang should be busted before unsuspecting people get duped,” said the RRB chairman.

He said websites of railway zones and railway departments are designed and maintained by Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) and most websites run on a common platform managed by NIC which is impossible for individual to misuse. Security experts say it is appalling that railway intelligence or other agencies could not detect the racket for at least three years.

The racket, apparently headquartered at Bihar, had been operating for long. In 2012 the then Minister of State for Railways K H Muniayappa had made a written submission in the Loksabha that railways were aware of fake websites issuing admit cards for recruitment tests for Group D posts. He had said admit cards for recruitment tests for Group-D posts by Railways Recruitment Board, Jabalpur were issued by such fake websites and railways had launched an awareness campaign about the existence of fake websites and public has been advised to check credentials of such websites or organisations before applying for railway jobs.

Department of Information Technology was alerted about the fake websites whenever such portals are brought to notice. But nothing so far.

Rail scam: Bansal to appear as CBI witness today

New Delhi: Former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to appear as a CBI witness in the Rs 10-crore cash-for-post railway bribery case in which a special court commenced trial today.

A Congress leader, Bansal, who resigned as Railway Minister after the case came to light, has been arraigned as a prosecution witness by CBI in the case in which his nephew Vijay Singla along with others, including suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, are facing trial.

CBI court has sent the summons to Bansal to appear before it for recording of his statement as a prosecution witness.

Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma commenced the trial and recorded testimonies of two CBI witnesses in the case.

The court recorded statements of Vinay Mittal, the then Railway Board chairman and senior Railway ministry official Jagmohan Rawat, who had given sanction to prosecute accused Mahesh Kumar. Their testimonies remained inconclusive.

CBI had chargesheeted 10 accused, including Vijay Singla and Mahesh Kumar, in the case last year.

Paving the way for the trial, the court had on March 11 this year framed charges against all the accused under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court had framed charges against Singla, then Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, Managing Director of Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Limited N R Manjunath, alleged middlemen Ajay Garg and Sandeep Goyal and co-accused Rahul Yadav, Sameer Sandhir, Sushil Daga, C V Venugopal and M V Murali Krishan.

The court, while framing charges against the accused, had observed that they had prima facie entered into a criminal conspiracy to get Mahesh Kumar appointed as Member(Electrical) in the Railway Board and for that Singla was to be paid Rs 10 crore as illegal gratification.

CBI to extend help to UK Serious Fraud Office in Alstom bribery case

The allegation is that some Alstom directors bribed Delhi Metro officials to gain DMRC contracts

New Delhi:  The Central Bureau of Investigation is preparing its reply to a query from the Serious Frauds Office (SFO) of the U.K. in a case against Alstom UK for allegedly paying bribes to officials to win contracts from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in 2001.

“We have received a letter from the U.K. authorities seeking assistance in gathering information pertaining to the allegations. Accordingly, efforts are under way to provide all the required inputs to them,” a CBI official said.

Earlier this week, the SFO brought charges of corruption against certain directors of Alstom UK for allegedly paying bribes, in the garb of payments for consultancy services, to secure the contract for a train control, signalling and telecommunications system for the Delhi Metro Phase I.

“The sum of Rs.1,98,95,000 was disguised as payments in respect of a consultancy agreement with M/s.Indo European Ventures Pte Ltd dated 12th September 2001 and the sum of €3,131,600 disguised as a payment in respect of a consultancy agreement with Global King Technology Ltd. dated 3rd May 2002,” the charge reads.

The SFO says the payments were alleged “inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award” of the DMRC contract.

The first contract helped the U.K.-based firm get similar contracts with the expansion of metro projects in India. The company is now engaged in the Chennai and the Bangalore metro projects.

The allegations are part of a larger charge against the London office of the French train major that it paid around $8.5 million (nearly Rs. 52 crore) in bribes between 2000 and 2006 to win contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia.

UK’s Serious Fraud Office charge Alstom for bribing DMRC officials to secure contracts

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on Tuesday placed charges in court against engineering major Alstom Network UK Ltd related to bribing officials and agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to the tune of over 3 million euros to secure contracts.

The hearing in the case, which began in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, will have its next hearing in the Southwark Crown Court on 6 October.

Of the six charges filed against the company in court, two relate to the DMRC contract, and the rest to its activities in Poland and Tunisia.

The SFO charge is that certain directors of Alstom “did corruptly give or agree to give payments to an official or officials or other agents” of the DMRC to secure the contracts between 1 August 2000 and 9 August 2006.

The charge mentions two specific examples: “The sum of Rs. 19,895,000 disguised as payments in respect of a Consultancy Agreement with Indo European Ventures Pte Ltd dated 12th September 2001 and, and the sum of €3,131,600 disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy Agreement with Global King Technology Ltd dated 3rd May 2002”.

These payments, according to SFO, were intended to be “inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance” of a DMRC contract for a Train Control, Signalling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1 (‘SYS 1’).

This constitues two offences under section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, and under section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Meanwhile, a senior urban development ministry official told  “We are not aware of the charges leveled by the Britain’s Serious Fraud Office against Alstom for bribing Delhi Metro to win contracts. Nothing has been communicated to us so far. We will take a view once we get something in writing from either the home ministry or the CBI.”

When contacted, the DMRC also refused to comment saying that they were not aware of the development

NWR official caught red-handed taking bribe

जयपुर Jaipur (JP): The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on Tuesday arrested an office superintendent at DRM office, Jaipur after he was allegedly caught red-handed taking a bribe of Rs 20,000. The accused employee was taking the bribe to renew a parking contract.

According to ACB officials, one Satish Yadav registered a complaint with the agency saying that office superintendent Heerlal Agrawal, deputed in DRM/Jaipur’s office, was demanding bribe from him. “Yadav said that he has a vehicle parking contract in seat reservation area and parking area at Alwar railway station. The parking work was looked after by his brother Jagdish Yadav,” said the officer.

He added that the contract of parking at parking area was for three years between 2010 and 2013, while the same for seat reservation area had ended in March 2014, but the contract was extended till September 2014.

“To tender the contract again for seat reservation area and to give back the security deposit for the earlier contract, Heeralal was demanding Rs 20,000 bribe,” said the officer.

After verifying the complaint, ACB team laid a trap. “Heeralal called Yadav to a place in front of SMS Hospital where he was caught red-handed. He has been booked under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. Further investigation is going on,” said the officer.

CBI probes RITES officials role in making Inspection Report with misleading remarks

New Delhi:  The CBI has initiated an inquiry against two senior officials of the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), a government of India enterprise, for allegedly issuing a “desired” inspection report to a Kolkata-based firm for its consignments while making adverse comments for its competitors.

Sources said, “There are allegations that the suspected officials allegedly took bribe for giving desired inspection report in favour of a Kolkata-based firm. The suspected public servants allegedly transferred some RITES inspectors who did not give desired inspection report in favour of the firm in 2013-14. The agency has registered a preliminary enquiry against the suspected officials of RITES and the private firm and they will soon be called for clarification”.

The RITES is a multi-disciplinary consultancy organisation in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies. It provides a comprehensive array of services under a single roof. In overseas projects, RITES actively pursues and develops cooperative links with local consultants and firms.

“It has also been alleged that the suspected RITES officials provided some secret official documents to the private firm, which is under the scanner of the agency,” sources said.

CBI smells Nexus in Supply of RailNeer bottled water in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  As per CBI and some media reports, there appears to be a “scam” in providing bottled drinking water in premium trains like the Rajdhani and Shatabdi with the connivance of officials from IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) and Indian Railways, some new media evidently reported the news. Smelling a rat, the CBI, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Vigilance Department of Northern Railways raided at least 15 Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to lift samples of bottled water in a bid to crack the nexus behind the scam.

A day after the news spread on an apparent drinking water scam in the making in railways, the IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) alleged that a nexus of the catering contractors are blocking the mandatory Rail Neer from being served to the passengers in the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. Ever since IRCTC hiked price of Rail Neer from Rs 12 to Rs 15, contractors are not picking up stocks of the water. The CBI had raided 15 Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains over three days to get evidences against rampant racket of serving sub-standard and counterfeit water bottles to passengers in premium trains.

Reacting to the reports, the IRCTC alleged that ever since it hiked the price of Rail Neer from Rs 12 to Rs 15, the catering licensees (contractors) are not picking up the Rail Neer stocks, which has resulted in overstocking in the factories. “IRCTC is facing the problem of non-picking up of Rail Neer by the catering licencees in Rajdhani and Shatbdi trains resulting in overstocking. This is despite the fact that the Rail Neer brand of packaged drinking water is mandatory to be provided on premium trains Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto,” said an IRCTC official.

Though the IRCTC sought to wash its hands off the racket of serving the passengers in the premium trains sub-standard and locally-filled tap water in bottles of Rail Neer and other brands, sources in the railways said that the scam could not take place without the connivance of the IRCTC officials with the catering contractors to show an artificial shortage of the mandatory drinking water bottles.

Cash-for-Post Scam: Trial against Pawan Bansal’s nephew, 9 others to begin on 15 Sept

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  The New Delhi High Court fixed 15 September for commencing the trial in the INR.10 Crore railway bribery case against Vijay Singla, the nephew of former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, and nine other accused.

Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge Swarna Kanta Sharma deferred the recording of the statement of prosecution witnesses in the case to Sep 15.

Besides Singla, other accused in the cash-for-post case include are suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, middlemen Sandeep Goyal, Samir Sandhir, Sushil Daga, Ajay Garg, Rahul Yadav, businessman Manjunath and his aides MV Murli Krishan and Venugopal.

The court in March framed charges of criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act against all 10 accused in the case.

CBI files Chargesheet against 6 Railway Officials of Pune Division

पुणे Pune:  The CBI has filed a chargesheet against chief loco inspector of the Central Railway consumer depot in Daund and five others on the charge of falsely diverting high speed diesel (HSD) worth over Rs 1.49 crore.

The chargesheet was filed against chief loco inspector Vir Singh in the court of special judge D M Deshmukh on Tuesday by inspector Sanjay Gokhale through CBI’s counsel Vivek Saxena. The other accused are fuel issuers Popat Tukaram Kadam, Ashok Jagannath Waikar, Vijay Nivruti Devkate, Malhari Sukhdev Pagar and Chand Gaibuddin Shaikh.

The CBI had registered a case against Singh and others on August 20, 2013 for misappropriating Rs 10 crore in the allocation of HSD.

The chargesheet said that Singh and others had allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy, falsified records and diverted 3,72,664 lakh litres of the fuel to different locomotives of the Indian Railways. The accused had caused wrongful gains to themselves and corresponding loss to the Indian Railways between April 22 and July 1, 2011, said the chargesheet.

The chargesheet gives details of the individual and collective liability of the accused to show their alleged involvement in the crime. The accused are out on bail.

The agency has obtained sanction from the divisional railway manager of central railways, Pune division, to prosecute Singh, Waikar and Devkate as they are still in service. While the sanction to prosecute others is not required because they have retired between 2011 and 2013.

The CBI has charged the accused under sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged document as genuine) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Former WCR Section Engineer sentenced to 5 years Rigorous Imprisonment

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The special judge for CBI cases, Bhopal, convicted A K Dubey, a former Section Engineer (P-Way), West Central Railway (WCR), Biaora, Rajgarh, under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentenced him to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs.15 lakh.

The CBI had registered a case against Dubey on the basis of a complaint by its inspector. It was alleged that Dubey, when he was posted as Section Engineer (Path Way), WCR, Biaora, Rajgarh, amassed huge assets to the tune of nearly Rs 15.18 lakh between January 1, 1994 and April 11, 2006. This was disproportionate to his known sources of income.

After completion of investigation, a charge sheet was filed on May 26, 2007 under Sections 7 and 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in the court of the special judge for CBI cases, Bhopal. The court found Dubey guilty and convicted him.

Top Chinese Railway Official Sentenced to Death in Corruption Case

बीजिंग BEIJING: A Beijing court today sentenced a former railway official to death for corruption, but promised a reprieve after two years of good behaviour, state media reported, in the latest graft case to hit China’s sprawling rail network.

Wen Qingliang was sacked as head of the rail bureau in the southwestern city of Kunming in 2011 for “discipline” problems, the usual euphemism for corruption in China.

The Beijing court found that Wen took more than C¥20 million yuan (RM10.5 million) in bribes between 2005 and 2011 while working in the northern province of Shanxi “to provide favours to companies bidding on railway projects”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

His death sentence will be commuted after two years, Xinhua added, which generally means that after two years of good behaviour he will end up with a life sentence.

The reprieve was granted because authorities recovered most of his ill-gotten gains, the report said.

Wen’s mistress, Zhong Hua, who is accused of colluding with him, will be given a separate trial, it added.

China’s railways have faced increased scrutiny from anti-corruption officials and the public after a scandal in which former railways minister Liu Zhijun was prosecuted for corruption and abuse of power.

China’s railways have faced increased scrutiny from anti-corruption officials and the public after a scandal in which former railways minister Liu Zhijun was prosecuted for corruption and abuse of power.

One of several officials implicated in the scandal, Liu received a suspended death sentence last summer. In China, that usually implies life in prison.

The country’s railways have confronted numerous problems in the past few years, including heavy debts from funding new high-speed lines, waste and fraud. The government has pledged to open the rail industry to private investment in a big way.

The sector suffered a major blow to its image when 40 people were killed in a crash between two high-speed trains in 2011.

IRCTC ex-official gets 5 years jail for taking bribe

लखनऊ Lucknow:  A special CBI court on Monday sentenced the then chief regional manager of Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Limited Krishna Mohan Tripathi with five years rigorous imprisonment and also imposed Rs 90,000 fine on him for being caught red-handed taking bribe about five years ago. The court acquitted co- accused then station officer Ajai Kumar Srivastava for want of adequate evidence.

Pronouncing the verdict, judge Rajendra Singh said the prosecution could not prove beyond doubt the allegation of abatement against Srivastava but it proved its case against Tripathi beyond doubt.

Basti resident Sunil Kumar Singh had lodged a complaint with CBI’s Lucknow unit on October 29, 2009 that he had licence to run stall and trolly at Basti and Khalilabad railway stations. He required renewal of the licence. As he approached the office in Lucknow, Srivastava asked from him a bribe to get his work done and suggested to meet Tripathi. The complainant met Tripathi at his Mahatma Gandhi Marg residence where the latter demanded Rs 70,000 for renewal of the licences. The complainant met CBI officers and lodged his complaint.

The CBI officials laid a trap and caught Tripathi red-handed while accepting bribe from the complainant. Tripathi was released on bail during trial. On Monday, court rejected his bail plea and sent him to jail.

CBI arrests Railway official, 5 others in bribery case

सील्डा Sealdah (SDAH):  A senior Railways official from Sealdah Division and five others were today arrested by CBI for allegedly receiving bribe in return of favouring business concerns of private companies in processing of bills and overlooking the omission against execution of various works.

The agency has arrested Kunal Mukherjee, Senior Divisional Engineer, managers of private companies Maruti Enterprises and Bee Tech Enterprises and three other private persons in an alleged bribe case of Rs 45,000.

“A case was registered alleging that two private persons managing the business affairs of Kolkata-based private firms had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer…during the year 2014,” CBI spokesperson said here today.

The official said these people allegedly paid huge amount of bribe to the Divisional Electrical Engineer of Railways for showing favour to their business concerns in processing of bills and overlooking the omission against the execution of various works.

“CBI laid a trap and arrested the Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer of Eastern Railway for accepting the bribe amount of Rs 45,000 from an employee of the said business concerns. The two Managers of said business concerns and their three employees were also arrested,” she said.

The spokesperson said searches in the official and residential premises of the accused were conducted.

ER officials confirmed that the engineer was arrested by the CBI on Thursday and raids were carried out at his office and residence. The CBI claimed that a trap was laid and Mukherjee was caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 45,000 from an employee of the private firms. The managers of the firms and three employees were subsequently arrested.

“Searches in the office and residence of the accused railway officer led to the seizure of about Rs 5.5 lakh in cash, fixed deposit receipts worth nearly Rs 25 lakh and documents relating to other investments. Documents revealed that he had lockers in four different banks and several bank accounts. Further investigation is on, Cash of approximately Rs 5.5 lakh, FDRs worth around Rs 25 lakh, lockers in four different banks, various bank accounts and documents relating to other investments have been recovered from the premises of the Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer,” she said.

Railway officials catch up with mobile ticketing fraud

Railway officials have finally made a breakthrough in preventing people from misusing mobile ticketing by forwarding used tickets.

Earlier, officials could not find a system to bring about a halt in the practice. But now, the very format of the ticket changes when forwarded, making it easy for ticket collectors to spot used tickets. “Officials have been able to find a way through which a change can be brought about in the format of a ticket if it is forwarded as an image or SMSed to someone who would try to change its format. This will end the possibility of someone misusing mobile ticketing,” said an official from the commercial department.

Officials are also trying to change the colour once the message is forwarded, “The colour of the message would go from maybe green to red and therefore it would decrease the possibility of duplication.” Mobile ticketing had been announced way back by former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in the Railway Budget for 2013-14. It was re-announced by his successor Mallikarjun Kharge in the interim budget of February this year and was stuck in the technical difficulties.

Western Railway’s chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, “We are waiting for an official communication from the Centre of Railway Information System (CRIS), but, yes, they are looking into various other possibilities like the changing of the format when the message is forwarded.”

D.B. Pande, Member of Railway Board (Traffic), had said that the challenge of mobile ticketing lies in SMS ticketing. However, he said that the problem didn’t occur on the Android

Headmaster of Railway School and an OS arrested for bribery

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): Headmaster of a railway high school at Secunderabad and an office superintendent were today arrested by CBI for taking a bribe of Rs 3 lakh, a part of it by cheque, from a woman teacher.

Headmaster Nageshwar Rao and superintendent Narasimhulu told the teacher that there was some problem with her caste certificate, and if the vigilance officials found out about it, she would lose her pension benefits.

They asked for Rs 3 lakh to settle the matter.

The teacher, who had served for 35 years, was to retire next year.

After she complained to CBI, a trap was laid and both the headmaster and the office superintendent were caught at her house while accepting Rs 1 lakh in cash and a cheque of Rs 2 lakh, CBI Superintendent of Police V Chandrasekhar told.

Both the accused will produced before a local court tomorrow.

Senior Section Engineer of S&T Branch booked by CBI in graft case

नागपुर Nagpur (NGP): The local unit of CBI has booked a Senior Section Engineer (S&T) of Central Railway after carrying out searches in his house and office in an alleged graft case involving a Kolkata-based company.

CBI conducted the searches at the residence and office of the engineer, R K Sharma, attached with Signal and Telecommunication Department, as part of its probe, a CBI statement said here. Documents related to the case were seized, it said.

Railway goods transported to Kolhapur: CBI

कोल्हापुर Kolhapur (KOP): The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Pune, on Monday told the court that two of the five suspects arrested for allegedly misappropriating 1,000 bags of elastic rail clips worth Rs 27 lakh have claimed that the goods were transported to a jaggery market in Kolhapur.

However, the CBI said that it is in the process of verifying the information given during custodial interrogation by senior engineer, Satyajit Das, who was then posted at the stores department in Ghorpadi and Rajesh Kumar Shah, director of M/s Manish Forging Private Ltd at Raipur. The duo along with railway broker Indrajeet Singh, the firm’s authorized signatory Ishwari Prasad and his accountant, Manas Ranjan, both from Raipur, were arrested on July 15.

Inspector Narayan Saste presented Das and others before the special court, following expiry of their police custody remand.

He filed a plea to extend their police custody remand for seven days.

Special public prosecutor Vivek Saxena submitted before the court that the custodial interrogation of the suspects was essential to seize the goods and probe the involvement of the railway officials and private persons involved in the crime.

CBI arrests Sr.DEN/Pune on fraud charges

पुणे Pune: The Central Bureau of Investigation has detected an alleged scam of about Rs 27 lakh involving the Pune Railway Division regarding purchase of railway equipment.

The investigative agency has arrested Senior Divisional Engineer of Pune Railway Division Satyajit Das (59) and four others for fraud in the purchase of railway track clips.

All five of them were produced in the special CBI court of DM Deshmukh on Tuesday, which sent them to police custody up to July 21.

The other four have been identified as a purchase broker Indrajit Singh (42), Raipur-based Manish Forging Company’s Director Rajesh Kumar Shah (39), junior accountant of the company Manas Ranjan Pradhan (29) and company’s manager Ishwari Prasad Singh (48).

CBI was tipped off about the ongoing irregularities in the purchase of the railway track clips and accordingly, they had investigated the matter.

During its investigation, CBI found out that around 1,000 clip bags, each containing 50 iron clips, were assigned for the Pune railway division.

CBI informed the court that although 500 bags reached Pune, payment was made for 1,000 bags to Manish Forging Company.

The broker, Indrajit Singh, was the link between the company and the railway officials.

The CBI probe revealed that 500 bags were unloaded in Nagpur by Singh.

Public prosecutor Vivek Saxena demanded police custody for all the five accused since the CBI has to trace the material and trace it and find out whether any other railway officials of the division are involved in the case or not.

50 Central Railway RPF personnel fell in CBI net in last 7 years

मुंबई Mumbai:  This is a statistic the Railway Protection Force (RPF) of Central Railway (CR) will not be proud of. A reply to an RTI query has revealed that in the last seven years at least 50 jawans and officers of this elite force have been caught in the net of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) department of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The RTI query filed by human rights activist Samir Jhaveri has also found that many of them were either suspended, dismissed or have been compulsorily retired.

According to the reply furnished by Udai Shukla, additional chief security commissioner, these jawans and officials were found adopting illegal practices such as demanding illegal gratification, bribe, protecting illegal hawkers or extorting money from passengers. A detailed list given under the RTI reply said that of these 50 offenders, chargesheet were filed against 11 accused, while cases against 11 accused were pending in CBI special court. Sanction has been given to prosecute 17 accused, while four have been acquitted and three convicted.

Most of the 28 jawans and officers were trapped when B. S. Sidhu was the chief security commissioner (CSC) of CR.

Mr Jhaveri, who unearthed the fake bail bond racket at Kurla railway station, and the extortion racket at LTT, is the man responsible for trapping 27 jawans and officials. “I wanted to check the status of the CBI corruption cases,” he said, adding. “I hope this force will adopt ethical practices and regain its glory back.”

CBI probes into irregularities in construction of Bridges on Sultanpura-Sri Ganganagar route

बीकानेर Bikaner (BKN): The CBI is probing the role of several senior officials of the railway ministry in connection with its investigations into the alleged irregularities committed in awarding contracts related to the construction of four railway bridges on Sultanpura-Hanumangarh-Sri Ganganagar (Jaipur) route in 2012.

According to sources, preliminary investigations by the agency have revealed that the senior officials of the concerned zone of the railway ministry allegedly awarded contracts for the construction of four bridges to the same private firm in 2012 which had earlier been disqualified by the zone officials. “Investigations have revealed that the earnest money of the suspected firm was forfeited by the railway officials when it failed to start the construction work of the same bridges in 2011,” sources said. “Again in 2012, the same firm was awarded the contract for the construction of these bridges when it quoted a high initial price. The CBI is also examining the role of senior officials of the railway ministry in this matter,” sources said.

The agency (Delhi zone) recently registered a preliminary enquiry to probe the role of senior officials of the railway ministry in this regard, they added. Earlier, the CBI had registered a PE against six senior officials of the Western zone of the Indian Railways in June to probe their alleged role in the purported irregularities in the recruitment of lower level staff.

Role of senior officials of the railway ministry is being probed by the agency in connection with its investigations into this PE also (registered June), sources said.

Investigations revealed that some candidates were recruited overlooking their ineligibility for the post. “Recruitment of 15 candidates are under the scanner of the CBI.  Investigations also revealed that eligibility criteria, prescribed by the railway ministry, were tweaked by the suspected officials at the time of recruitment,” sources said.

Senior Maharashtra BJP Leader writes a Letter to Rail Minister about the Ticket Scam

मुंबई Mumbai: Vinod Tawde, a senior BJP leader in Maharashtra and leader of the Opposition in the Council, has written a letter to the railway minister to draw his attention towards a possible racket being run by some booking agents who have developed a software for e-bookings. Mr Tawde has requested the Union rail minister Sadananda Gowda to look into the matter as it has been affecting and challenging the efforts of the railways to serve the common man.

In his letter Mr Tawde has said, “Science and technology has created milestones in each and every sphere of life and has become the need of the hour. But some people with criminal mind are misusing this technology. For instance, I have received complaints from people traveling to Konkan for upcoming Ganesh festival. As booking opens two months prior to the traveling date, they were waiting full night in queues at reservation counters. But when the counter opened, they were shocked after getting their tickets. The first ticket issued was on waiting list, that too over 300.”

The copy of the complaint sent to Mr Gowda further reads, “Actually some booking agents have developed a software for e-booking and they use this software to manage the bookings before the counters open online. This is a syndicate of some railway officers and booking agents, creating a racket. Such rackets should be broken and people waiting full night should get confirmed tickets.”

Mr Tawde has also requested the minister to inquire into the matter and take strict action against those found guilty.“Ganesh Chaturthi falls on August 29 and thousands of devotees are standing in the queues all night to get confirmed tickets, but none of them are getting confirmed tickets. This cannot happen without the connivance of agents and rail officers,” said Mohan Keluskar, president of Konkan Vikas Aghadi, an organisation that addresses the woes of Konkani community.

He added, “Railways saying that bookings are made throughout the country offices is a farce as no one gets confirmed ticket from the railway windows.” When contacted, Narendra Patil, chief PRO of Central Railway, said, “We have not received such complaints earlier. However, our RPF and commercial staff have successfully cracked down a few such cases where touts, through many login IDs at many computers, were booking the tickets simultaneously near Mumbai Central.”

Commenting upon the issue, Vaishali Patange, chief PRO of Konkan Railway said, “We are not facing this problem at KR. There is strict vigil at all our stations by the RPF and commercial personnel. Wherever there have been repeated complaints, we have installed CCTV cameras to address the issues.”

CBI unearths railway recruitment scam, 14 arrested

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  The Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday unearthed a major recruitment scam in Indian Railways with the arrest of 13 students, an advocate and a chief vigilance inspector for the leak of examination of assistant railway locomotive pilots. The main accused in the scam is absconding, sources said.

The 13 candidates, appearing for the railway locomotive pilot’s exam, were arrested along with an advocate G Sri Ramappa and S Mahesh who is chief vigilance inspector of South Western Railways.

CBI officials say that several senior railway officials, including a divisional personnel officer in Bangalore and a chief vigilance inspector, are under the scanner. The question papers for the exam of locomotive pilots were allegedly leaked for Rs 5 lakh each.

CBI sleuths raided a flat in Bangalore at 6.30am on Sunday and found 13 students there with the question papers, said sources.

The candidates, appearing for the exam, were arrested along with an advocate G Sri Ramappa and chief vigilance inspector of South Western Railways — S Mahesh. In its FIR, CBI has also named divisional personnel officer of South Western Railways, T Shivana, and another person identified as R Dayanand apart from the 13 candidates. The accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and under sections of the prevention of corruption act.

Sources say that the 13 aspirants were kept in the flat with a promise that the question paper of the examination, which was scheduled to be held on Sunday, would be leaked for a bribe of Rs 5 lakh each.

The spokesperson said after taking the 13 candidates into custody, residences of the other accused were also searched and some sample question papers and cash amounting to Rs 1.5 lakh were seized.

CBI officials say they conducted the raids on the basis of a tip-off that question papers were being leaked.

The assistant loco pilot examination is conducted by the Railway Recruitment Board. The assistant loco pilot assists the loco pilots in driving and other duties besides attending to minor repairs.

Hawala gangs book Rail Wagons for Black Money transactions; money sent in Goods Parcels

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  Hawala operators have now devised an ingenious route of sending black money through railway consignments to their intended customers in the country. Fearing that their money would be robbed on the land route, these hawala operators are now booking rail wagons to send and receive huge amounts of cash hidden in goods parcels.

Sleuths of the Delhi Police stumbled upon the new ‘railway wagon’ route when they were investigating a kidnapping-cum robbery case. On April 22, Rishi Chand, who worked for an Allahabad-based cargo carrier company, informed the police that some men had robbed a parcel delivered by the Prayagraj express at Delhi railway station on April 13. The arrest of four men, including two constables and a railway contractor, for the robbery of Rs.50 lakh blew the lid off this new hawala route.

A Crime Branch officer said the hawala business works on the principles of trust and loyalty. Black money worth crores is transacted in the hawala market of Delhi, Mumbai and other states on a daily basis.

Since the cash is in huge amounts, these money consignments are delivered by ‘angadias’ (trusted human couriers).

“They first book a railway wagon to send goods consignments to their business partners in other states. They then bribe a railway employee so that their consignments are loaded without checking. Cash is hidden inside these consignments,” another police source said.

Another advantage of using the ‘railway wagon” route is the money gets delivered or received quickly. The government machinery can be avoided thereby avoiding tax too.

The source said the hawala operators dropped their earlier Demand Draft (DD) route of sending money after some miscreants stole the demand drafts with the help of some insiders. Later, they started sending money through cars. But there were instances when angadias were robbed. Such robberies were not reported to the police as the cash involved was black money.

Few months ago, Delhi-based bookie Rajesh Kalra became a victim of the Rs.8 crore daylight heist in Lajpat Nagar. Sleuths had found that black money was being transported through cars.

Two Railways Officials, 6 others Booked for Bribery

पटना Patna (PNBE):  The CBI has registered a case against two senior railway officers and six others in a case of bribery. The accused include a chief administrative officer and a Chief Engineer (Construction), both working with North Eastern Railway (NER), a Chief Editor of a fortnightly magazine and five non-railway persons/contractors.

As per the case records, the private contractors, in conspiracy with others, had paid certain illegal gratification to the senior railway officials to manage contract worth Rs 58 crore related to the construction of three rail overbridge (RoB) between Maharajganj and Masrakh under NER in Bihar.

A CBI release said searches were conducted on the residence and office premises of railway officials and other accused at Gorakhpur (UP), Chhapra (Bihar) and Mumbai. During these searches, huge amount of cash, jewellery, bank accounts, fixed deposits, documents of properties and other incriminating documents were recovered. Certain documents relating to transfer and posting of railway personnel and awarding of railway contracts were also recovered during searches on the premises of a private person. “Further investigation is continuing,” a CBI official said.

Undergraduate student used Software skills to corner IRCTC Rail tickets in bulk

Mumbai:  A recent anti-tout operation conducted by Central Railway’s RPF for 20 days resulted in 12 arrests and revealed a chink in the armour of IRCTC’s ticket booking portal.

The most intriguing of the arrests, however, was that of an 18-year-old computer science undergraduate student from Somaiya College, who was apprehended on March 5. Using his skills and sophisticated software, he allegedly managed to expedite online ticket booking procedures and thereby book multiple tickets at one go that were then sold for higher prices.

RPF officials said that Krishna Vishwakarma, a resident of Ghatkopar, used a laptop to book the tickets which were sold from various sources, including Gupta Tours and Travels at Bandra.

“He, along with his brother Ajay and cousin Pushpendra, were arrested with 136 confirmed e-tickets worth Rs 3.61 lakh, following the arrest of two other persons on March 4 who had with them 37 confirmed e-tickets costing around Rs 1.09 lakh,” said an official. “They led us to Vishwakarma.”

During his five-day remand in custody, Vishwakarma revealed that his father earlier ran an IRCTC authorized agency at Ghatkopar, and that it was from there that he had learnt the nitty gritties of the ticket booking system.

“He explained that by using certain software and his skills he could ‘jump ahead’ of everyone trying to book tickets online at 8 am. That helped him corner several confirmed tickets at one go,” said Senior Divisional Security Commissioner Alok Bohra.

“We have now involved IT experts as well as the cyber cell to understand more about the software, as well as the modus operandi he used,” Bohra said, adding that an investigation into the case is underway.

Bohra said that all the 12 accused, including Jitendra Gupta, owner of Gupta Tours, were booked under Section 143 of the Railways Act for conducting the business of procuring and supplying of railway tickets without authorization.

Meanwhile, an RPF official voiced the need for a separate team of RPF staff specially trained in IT, who can quickly crack such cases as touts were using the latest technologies and people were ready to pay tidy sums for confirmed tickets during peak season.

The official also said it was high time IRCTC made its website secure by designing a tamperproof ticket booking application to prevent such illegal activities. “It has already been conveyed to IRCTC and they have assured us that steps are being taken,” the official said.

Gul Panag hits out at Pawan Kumar Bansal, questions CBI clean chit in rail scam

Gul PanagChandigarh (CDG): Launching a scathing attack on former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal over cash-for-post scam, AAP candidate and former Miss India Gul Panag today questioned the clean chit given by CBI in the case to her rival from Chandigarh seat and said he cannot simply brush aside the alleged involvement of his nephew in the scam.

“A man who has to resign from his Ministerial post (Railways) due to a corruption scandal, a man whose nephew is still in jail is talking of having got the clean chit,” the 35-year-old Bollywood actress told PTI.

Panag, daughter of a retired Army officer, said the former Railway Minister has to decide whether he was complicit or incompetent to know what was going on in his ministry.

“It’s like this. If I am in a scandal where you found somebody guilty, either I am complicit or I am incompetent. I am incompetent if I don’t know what is going on in my ministry. So, I think Mr Bansal has to decide what is he, complicit or incompetent,” she said.

When asked about four-time Chandigarh MP Bansal’s statement that the charge sheet in the case has not named him, she said, “I am sure he has a clean chit, he has been given clean chit by CBI under his own government.”

“Individually, I have the highest respect for him. He is a man who is of my father’s age. He was a class fellow of my father. He is a man with incredible political acumen and incredible experience. But I think it’s time for him to step forward and tell us if is he complicit in this (case) or is he incompetent that he does not know what was going on in his own Ministry,” she said.

Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla and nine others, arrested in the Rs.10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery case, will face trial with a special court in Delhi framing charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption against them recently.

Bansal has been arrayed as a prosecution witness by the CBI in its charge sheet filed last year.

Apart from Panag, who writes her full name as Gulkirat Kaur Panag and Bansal, prominent among those who are pitted against them include BJP’s actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher and BSP’s Jannat Jahan.

Panag said that corruption is an issue which affects everyone and her party’s fight is to root it out from the society.

Panag said that people of this country are seeking a change and AAP is trying to provide them with a viable alternative.

Launching an attack on the parties with “Right wing agenda” she said, “On the other extreme there is such a Right wing agenda, it frightens me as somebody who is a minority, as somebody who has been at the receiving end of religious persecution still hasn’t seen justice.”

“I am not saying these parties will not reform, I am sure they will, time will make them reform. Today, they all have made corruption their agenda suddenly, why? There is public pressure, there are pressure groups, so eventually system will get cleaned up – 50 years, 60 years down the line, there may be no need for AAP by then. The idea is to force change,” said Panag, who has a masters in Political Science.