The Delhi government's vigilance department has put a spanner in the closure of a graft case against minister Satyendar Jain, saying the CBI report has "lacunae and discrepancies", requiring further probe in the matter of hiring a creative team for the PWD department, officials said on Monday.
The assistant director of the vigilance department had filed a written request before a special court, seeking two months' time to study the "lacunae and discrepancies" in the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) closure report in the case to file an appropriate protest petition before it.
The officials said the issues raised by the department may require further investigation by the agency.
Also Read | SC refuses to entertain Satyendar Jain’s plea against HC order in money laundering case
The special court has now granted time till January 31, with a direction that the final protest petition must be filed under the signature of either the secretary or the deputy secretary of the vigilance department, they said.
The CBI had closed the case against Delhi PWD Minister Mr. Jain and others, related to alleged corruption in hiring a creative team for the department, in April last year after a four-year-long investigation during which it failed to gather enough evidence to prosecute the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, the officials said.
The CBI had filed its closure report in April last year before the special court, which may or may not accept the final report submitted by the federal agency, they added.
The CBI registered the case on May 28, 2018, on a reference from the office of the lieutenant governor of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi to investigate the allegations of irregularities in awarding a tender to a private firm for hiring a creative team for PWD projects on the basis of a report from the vigilance department.
The agency had conducted a year-long preliminary enquiry after receiving the reference. It had levelled serious allegations of corruption against the minister and converted the enquiry findings into an FIR.
"A preliminary enquiry was earlier conducted to look into the matter. It was alleged that the accused persons, while working in the capacity of public servants, deliberately changed the terms and conditions in the NIT (notice inviting tender) to make the private company eligible for participating in the tender," a CBI spokesperson had said after the agency filed the FIR on May 29, 2018.
It was also alleged that the budget requirements were met in an unauthorised way under some other unrelated heads, which were found improper and in violation of various guidelines and regulations, the agency spokesperson had said.
Besides Mr. Jain, the CBI had also booked several senior PWD officials of that time, including Sarvagya Kumar Srivastava, Engineer in Chief, Manu Amitabh, Principal Director (Projects), A.K. Pait, Deputy Director (Administration), P.C. Chanana, Project Manager, and other unidentified officials.
In its enquiry findings, the agency had alleged that Mr. Jain had entered into a criminal conspiracy with the PWD officials to award the tender to Soni Detective and Allied Services for hiring the creative team for the department's projects.
It had also alleged that the accused had abused their official positions to change the terms and conditions of the notice inviting the tender to bring within the eligibility criteria a company that had no prior experience of such work.
In September 2015, it was proposed that young professionals from reputed institutions, such as IITs, NITs, NID, SPA and IIMs, could be hired with monthly emoluments ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh for the creative team as the PWD did not have such in-house capacity, the enquiry report had alleged.
"No meeting minutes held by Satyendar Jain, Minister of PWD, are available based on which this decision to hire the creative team was purportedly taken. Similarly, there was no request from the PWD for the hiring of such a creative team," the agency had claimed.
According to the CPWD manual, the funds for architects and consultants could be met from the savings of a project, but only in case of an urgent requirement, while in this case, no such urgent requirement was part of the records, it had alleged.
The condition for hiring professionals from the IITs and similar esteemed institutes was gradually diluted and finally omitted from the notice for the tender issued on March 15, 2016, the CBI had claimed.
No market survey was conducted prior to the fixing of remunerations of the consultants, the agency had alleged.