The Central Bureau of Investigation is learnt to have examined Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s Private Secretary Rahul Bhandari on Wednesday in connection with the bribe given allegedly by suspended Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar for an additional charge of General Manger (Western Railway and Signal and Telecommunication) before his posting as Member (Technical).
The CBI officials confirmed that the process for Mr. Bhandari’s questioning was initiated. The 1997-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of Punjab cadre came under the scanner after the agency found that Mr. Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla was in frequent touch with certain senior Railway Ministry officials through a mobile phone.
Attempts to contact Mr. Bhandari over his mobile phone and landline at his official residence did not yield any result.
The CBI has phone intercepts to establish the alleged links between Mr. Singla, the suspended Railway Board Member and their accomplices, including suspected middlemen. The accused persons have been confronted with the call records.
The agency also initiated investigations to ascertain whether set procedures were bypassed recently to grant promotion to Mr. Kumar and post him as Railway Board Member (Staff). The investigators have been able to make a significant progress into allegations that Mr. Kumar paid an initial sum of Rs.90 lakh to Mr. Singla and his accomplice Sandeep Goyal in Chandigarh on May 3. They are following various leads into the suspected larger conspiracy of appointing the main accused as Railway Board Member (Technical). The FIR alleges that Mr. Kumar offered to pay Rs.10 crore for the post.
The CBI sources earlier disclosed that as the probe progresses, the Railway Minister would be quizzed for clarifications. Other senior Railway Ministry officials would also be approached as and when necessary.