The CBI has registered a case against unidentified officials of the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC), along with Harish Lamba, Aarti Lamba and Ashwani Kumar, for allegedly getting newspapers empanelled for government advertisements on the basis of false and fabricated documents, officials said on Sunday.
After a preliminary enquiry, the agency has alleged that unidentified public servants of the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), now the BOC, in collusion with the Lambas, got six newspapers -- two editions each of the Arjun Times, the Health of Bharat and the Delhi Health -- empanelled with the DAVP by furnishing false and fabricated documents.
The agency had initiated the preliminary enquiry on the basis of a joint surprise check on August 30, 2019.
It came to light during the check that in spite of not meeting the criteria to become eligible for empanelment with the DAVP, these newspapers got empanelled in collusion with unidentified officials of the directorate.
The agency has alleged that false documents, including certificates of chartered accountants, were submitted in the department to get empanelled for government advertisements.
"It was further alleged that the above named newspapers were shown to have printed and circulated around 1.5 lakh copies (each containing eight pages) per day whereas, the collective circulation of the said newspapers may not be more than 100-150 copies per day," the FIR alleges.
The CBI has alleged that the advertisements given to these papers resulted in a loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer.
No active printing and publishing work was being carried out at the addresses of the publishers or the press of the said newspapers, it has alleged.
During the enquiry, the agency found that in its papers submitted in 2017 for the Arjun Times, Ashwani Kumar was shown as the publisher. Harish Lamba is the owner or proprietor of the newspaper.
"The name of the printing press was shown as Dolphin Pictography in Jhandewalan Extension, New Delhi-110055. Enquiry revealed that Darshan Singh Negi is the owner of Dolphin Pictography and he does not know any person namely Harish Lamba or Ashwani Kumar. The newspaper, Arjun Times, was never printed from this printing press," the CBI has alleged.
It has alleged that the contract between the publisher and the printer and the form of declaration submitted with the application, purportedly issued by Negi, were forged as those were never issued by him.
The enquiry further revealed that the chartered accountant certificate was also forged purportedly showing the number of copies printed per publishing day as 25,800. However, no copy of the newspaper was ever printed from Dolphin Pictography.
Similar irregularities were found in connection with the other newspapers as well.
The agency has alleged that these newspapers fraudulently and dishonestly got empanelled with the DAVP and got advertisements of Rs 62.24 lakh from 2016 to 2019.
"This amount may be more if calculated from the starting of the empanelment of the newspapers," officials said.