The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against an official of the Ministry of External Affairs on charges of issuing Indian passports to Sri Lankan nationals after allegedly taking bribes from travel agents. In one case, which the investigation agency has stated in the First Information Report, ₹45,000 was deposited into the official’s bank account in three instalments by a travel agent.
The CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch received specific information that V. Veeraputhiran, Senior Superintendent of Regional Passport Office, Madurai, had entered into a criminal conspiracy with travel agents for fraudulently issuing Indian passports to Sri Lankans and others who were actually not eligible.
The accused official, who knew that the applicants brought by the travel agents were not entitled to the issue of Indian passports, took money and cleared the applications. In one instance while serving as Granting Officer, Passport Seva Kendra, Tirunelveli, in June-September 2019 he demanded ₹45,000 from one travel agent S. Ramesh which was deposited into his bank account in Madurai in three instalments.
PC Act invoked
After obtaining sanction from the Ministry of External Affairs to register a case and investigate against the official, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch, Madurai, booked Mr. Veeraputhiran, Mr. Ramesh and unknown others on charges of criminal conspiracy and invoked provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against them. It is not clear how many such passports were fraudulently issued to foreign nationals and whether the beneficiaries are still living in Tamil Nadu or left the country.