New Delhi, June 23: The CBI will question former minister of state for finance Gingee Ramachandran to seek some “clarifications” as there is no material evidence to suggest his direct involvement in the cash-for-transfer scandal.
Ramachandran quit his post after his personal assistant, R. Perumalswamy, was caught accepting a Rs 4-lakh bribe from Indian Revenue Services officer Anurag Vardhan outside his south Delhi residence last month.
There have been suspicions that the minister himself may have been involved in the scam. On June 2, CBI counsel A.S. Cheema told special judge V.K. Jain: “It cannot be ruled out that the (former) minister himself may be involved.”
Asked how a personal assistant could influence transfers and postings of revenue officers without a minister’s knowledge, a senior CBI officer said clarifications would be sought from Ramchandran in much the same manner as from Ajit Jogi.
The CBI recently questioned the Chhattisgarh chief minister to find out the source of a document that he alleged had been prepared by the Intelligence Bureau to defame him and other politicians, the officer added.
It is learnt that the CBI has prepared 18 questions for Ramachandran. The former minister’s questioning could have a political fallout considering his party, the MDMK, is a member of the NDA coalition at the Centre.
A CBI team returned from Chennai late last week after collecting information on Perumalswamy and chartered accountant A Krishnamurthy’s bank accounts and other financial details. This was essential to establish the money trail in the scam.
The recovery of around Rs 69 lakh in cash along with signed, but undated, cheques worth Rs 85 lakh from Krishnamurthy’s Chennai residence baffled the sleuths. Of the nine cheques, five belong to Lakshmi Silks, another to Mala Export Corporation and the rest to individuals. The CBI is sifting through Krishnamurthy’s bank documents to establish how much of the seized money was obtained illegally.
The CBI has already questioned P.L. Singh, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes which is responsible for transfers and postings of income-tax officers. During questioning, Singh reportedly said transfers and postings were part of an administrative exercise. “No mala fide (intention) has been found on his part,” sources said.
Influence-peddling for seeking transfers and plum posts is just the tip of the scam. Investigations have revealed that the accused were allegedly minting money for granting favours to business houses whose cases were being handled by the income-tax department. The CBI is investigating the role of seven IT officials.
Delhi High Court today issued notice to the CBI following a plea by Perumalswamy seeking bail because his pregnant wife has been admitted to hospital. Justice A.K. Sikri has fixed July 2 as the next date of hearing.
On the same day, Vardhan’s bail application will also come up for hearing.
Of the four accused in this case, only IIT researcher Padmanabhan is out on bail.