New Delhi, May 15: Home ministry undersecretary Anand Joshi was arrested by the CBI tonight, five days after he had disappeared, in connection with an alleged extortion racket being run from North Block.
Joshi has been accused of demanding and accepting bribes from NGOs for issuing clearances under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which allow these organisations to receive foreign funding.
"He was traced to Tilak Nagar in west Delhi this evening and was immediately detained. After sustained interrogation, he was arrested," a senior CBI official said.
He added that several home ministry officials had come under the scanner in connection with the racket.
A case was registered against Joshi on May 5 following a complaint from his former boss, additional secretary B.K. Prasad, and the CBI searched Joshi's office and home on May 9.
The same day, Joshi told reporters that Prasad had threatened and framed him for protesting against the racket. He alleged his superiors had offered him "crores of rupees" to grant FCRA clearances to some NGOs.
Joshi, posted with the ministry's coordination division, disappeared on Tuesday after the CBI summoned him for questioning. He left behind a letter to his wife saying he couldn't take the "mental harassment" any more.
Prasad, a senior IAS officer who heads the foreigners' division and is to retire this month, has denied Joshi's allegation. Joshi had earlier been with the foreigners' division.
"I don't understand why he is levelling charges against me. He was caught red-handed and several files related to NGOs were found from his house. That's the reason I transferred him from the foreigners' division to coordination in March," Prasad told reporters on Friday.
"We plan to question several officials, including Prasad," a CBI official said.
Intelligence Bureau sources said the racket had come to light in January after Joshi "arbitrarily" issued 60 notices to NGOs, allegedly to try and extort money.
"But we can't understand why the complaint was registered with the CBI only in May. There are many unanswered questions that senior officials from the foreigners' division need to explain," an IB official said.
North Block houses the IB office as well as that of Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
A CBI official said Joshi had in January taken home several files relating to NGOs, including one on an organisation run by activist Teesta Setalvad that is being investigated for alleged FCRA violations.
Teesta, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a co-petitioner in a 2002 riot case against him that was registered when Modi was Gujarat chief minister.