Empty reservation forms/letter pads with MPs, MLAs signatures seized

In a joint surprise check, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Vigilance Organisation of the Southern Railway on Thursday unearthed alleged irregularities in the issue of train tickets and allotment of berths under the Emergency Quota (EQ).

Several unfilled reservation forms/letter pads signed by MPs or MLAs were seized during the search, railway sources said.

Based on a petition by Colachal MLA J.G. Prince of the Congress that agents or unauthorised persons were misusing facilities at the computerised railway reservation counter meant for elected representatives in the MLA Quarters at Omanthurar Government Estate, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch and Vigilance Officials of Southern Railway conducted a surprise check.

“The Reservation Supervisor came almost three hours late to work. A search on the official’s bag revealed 11 unfilled reservation forms signed by a MLA and five unfilled reservation forms with the seal of the Ministry of Finance … we have also seized some empty letter pads signed by a few MLAs/MPs,” a senior investigator told The Hindu.

Explaining the modus operandi of the accused, he said the signed reservation forms would be used to purchase tatkal tickets at the counter. “Since the counter is meant for MLAs or MPs, there would be no access to the public. Travel agents used the facility to purchase confirmed tickets for their customers. Signed letter pads were used to apply for berths under the EQ.”

Asked if there was any nexus between the agents and railway employees at the counter or whether the elected representatives who signed the forms received any monetary benefit, the investigator said those aspects were part of the investigation.

“We have to seize the reservation/EQ requisition forms received in the recent months and check the profile of beneficiaries. A case-by-case study has to be done to ascertain the corruption angle. As of now, we have made out a prima facie case of irregularity in process of ticketing and EQ requisitions,” he said.

As there was no revenue loss to the government, the CBI has handed over the case to the Railway’s Vigilance Organisation for further investigation and departmental action, CBI sources added.

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