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Assembly team clueless on Rajya Sabha poll file

- Probe into 2010 cash-for-vote scam hits hurdle, CBI still awaits missing documents

Ranchi, Feb. 12: A two-member Assembly committee has failed to trace a missing file concerning one of the Rajya Sabha MPs, hampering the CBI probe into a cash-for-vote scam that marred the biennial in 2010.

The all-important file, which contains the opinion of then advocate general R.S. Majumdar on whether JMM Rajya Sabha MP K.D. Singh was holding an office of profit at the time of his election, was found missing from the Assembly secretariat in March last year.

Formed around eight months ago, the committee, comprising additional secretary Ramashankar Prasad Verma and joint secretary Tejnarayan Pandey, submitted its report to Assembly Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta recently.

“We have failed to locate the file,” Pandey conceded.

The committee has obtained video footage of the day of the polling. In the footage, an Assembly employee was seen handing over a sealed envelope to then returning officer (RO) on the day (June 17, 2010) of the election. That was the file which contained the then advocate general’s opinion on the JMM MP.

“After that there is no trace of the file. No official entry of the file is available in the record book either,” Pandey said.

Following reminders from the CBI on the file’s whereabouts, the secretariat had issued notices to then secretary and returning officer Kaushal Kishore Prasad and deputy secretary and assistant returning officer Ramsagar on March 7 last year. However, both of them had denied any knowledge of the file, while pointing finger at Pankaj Kumar, a Grade-III Assembly employee.

Pankaj, who was also Prasad’s private assistant then, was the one who had received the sealed envelope containing the AG’s legal opinion.

The Assembly committee questioned around a dozen of officials and employees, including Pankaj, in this regard. But, the committee gave him a clean chit.

Days before the 2010 Rajya Sabha polls, the secretariat had sought the AG’s legal opinion after BJP candidate Ajay Maroo challenged Singh’s nomination, alleging that as chairman of national meat and poultry processing board (NMPPB), he was holding an office of profit during the time of the elections.

The CBI is conducting a probe into the 2010 cash-for-vote scam on the basis of a TV sting operation that allegedly showed five MLAs seeking money in exchange for their votes in favour of a particular candidate.

An FIR was lodged against the MLAs — Rajesh Ranjan, Yogendra Sao and Sawna Lakra (all Congress), Uma Shankar Yadav Akela (BJP) and Simon Marandi (JMM) — under Sections 8, 9 and 171 B of Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 120(B) and 34 of IPC on the instructions of the Election Commission.

Later, the high court asked the CBI to take over investigations.