CBI books six MPs for cheating, forgery
Those sitting MPs who were charged with sections 420 IPC and 13 (1) d of the Provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act are Brijesh Pathak (BSP), Lalhming Liana (MPF), and Debobrata Bandyopadhyay (AITMC). The former MPs against whom FIRs are registered are Mehmood Arshad Madani (RLD), Renu Bala (BJD) and JPN Singh (BJP).
The scam first came to be known in 2013 after the vigilance department of Indian Airlines was alerted following the arrest of a man at the Kolkata airport with 600 blank boarding passes of the airline in his possession. Further probe led the agency towards a JD(U) leader Anil Sahani for submitting ‘fake air travel allowance bills’ of the national carrier worth Rs 9 lakhs (approx) for reimbursement to the Rajya Sabha secretariat.
Then the secretariat officials grew suspicious and inquired about the bills from Indian Airlines. After going through the bills submitted by Sahani, the national carrier officially confirmed that the bills and documents submitted by Sahani for reimbursement were fake. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) started an inquiry and later the case was transferred to the CBI. During interrogation, Sahani revealed the names of several MPs including these six.
‘The CBI while probing found that these six MPs have repeatedly committed the alleged crime and the reimbursement amount was also credited to their respective bank accounts. It could be possible that subordinate of these MPs might be involved in the scam by forging signatures and misusing letterheads.’ CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said. In some cases it was found MPs had purchased return air tickets from travel agents. While they used the online services to get the boarding pass, they canceled the air ticket just before boarding to pocket the refund money. The canceled tickets and boarding passes were submitted to the Rajya Sabha secretariat by the MPs to claim the fraudulent money as travels expenses of the MPs.
Meanwhile, CBI also carried out searches on the premises of the politicians in Delhi and other parts of the country. Some of the travel agents in Delhi and Odisha were also questioned and their computers and laptops were seized.
Speaking to Millennium Post from Kolkata AITMC MP Debobrata Bandyopadhyay said, ‘I am shocked. In the last 35 years I haven’t earned a paisa through ill means.’