‘We have not served any notice on Bansal so far … at this stage we are gathering all relevant facts’

Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha has said that no notice had yet been served on former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in the alleged cash-for-appointment case.

“We have not served any notice on him so far … at this stage we are gathering all relevant facts,” Mr. Sinha told The Hindu , confirming that officials of the Railway Ministry’s Vigilance Department were also being examined to piece together the larger picture behind the conspiracy.

The CBI chief said the probe at the moment was restricted to the bribery case in which Mr. Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla and others were involved. When asked whether the agency was also probing previous appointments in the Railway Ministry, Mr. Sinha said: “Why should we..? Only this particular case is being investigated.”

CBI officials said the agency may interrogate Mr. Bansal based on records of nearly 1,500 phone calls between the accused persons. The call intercepts, along with the vital disclosures made by the accused, the officials said, were ample reasons to zero in on him. It is learnt that the CBI has also intimated the authorities concerned about their plans to question Mr. Bansal.

However, the agency has not mentioned the existence of these call intercepts in the FIR registered in the matter. While it has not yet given a formal confirmation about the existence or contents of these intercepts, sources said the conversations, running into several hours, just contain indications of the accused discussing about Mr. Bansal. There is no direct reference to him anywhere, they added.

Since the disclosures made by the accused would not be admissible in the court as evidence by themselves, the agency will have to gather corroborative evidence to make out a case against those about whom the accused have made disclosures. Following serious allegations of his suspected role in the cash-for-appointment case Mr. Bansal had to tender his on Friday.

Sources in the CBI on Monday said the agency had also seized Railway Ministry files pertaining to contracts and certain appointments about which the accused were heard discussing among themselves. Some of the files pertain to recent appointments made at senior levels in the Railway Protection Force. In case the agency comes across any prima facie illegality, it can probe the matter separately.

While several Railway Ministry officials have been summoned for questioning, among those questioned so far is Rahul Bhandari, Mr. Bansal’s personal secretary.