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5 state GST officials under CBI scanner in bribery racket case

5 state GST officials under CBI scanner in bribery racket case

New Delhi: The CBI is now looking into communication and mobile phone records of five senior GST officials working in the Delhi Department of Trade and Taxes, in connection with the purported bribery racket that was allegedly unearthed after the arrest of DANICS officer Gopal Krishna Madhav, who was also working in the same department along with holding additional charge as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in Delhi government.

Sources with direct knowledge of the case said that they had seized the mobile phones of these five senior officials to take a look at their communication with arrested accused Dheeraj Gupta and the complainant, who runs his own transport business.

A senior official said that the highest ranking officer who is being probed is Special Commissioner Udit Prakash Rai (IAS:2007), whose residence was also searched during the course of probe. The transporter had alleged to the CBI that Gupta had approached him demanding a bribe on behalf of Madhav in exchange for releasing his consignment.

One senior official aware of developments said that there is a long list of transporters who might have paid bribes to the suspect GST officials to get their respective consignments released. The CBI had said in court as well that this list of transporters needed to be put before both Madhav and Gupta to proceed with the investigation. In fact, according to the complainant, he himself had paid a Rs 2 lakh bribe to suspect officials to get two of his impounded trucks released days before he made the complaint to the central probe agency.

Meanwhile, both Madhav and Gupta were remanded to 14 days in judicial custody till February 28 by a Delhi court on Friday after having spent a week or so in CBI's custody in connection with the case. Moreover, Madhav's lawyer, SS Pandey, also moved a bail application on his client's behalf on Friday, which is expected to be heard on Saturday.

Madhav's lawyers are arguing that the CBI is unable to prove that the civil servant had actually made a demand for illegal gratification. According to the CBI, after Gupta was caught accepting the first installment of Rs 2.26 lakh (of the total Rs 3.5 lakh bribe amount) in a trap case, Madhav allegedly messaged him on WhatsApp, purportedly asking for the location from where he could collect the bribe amount. Madhav's defence is now raising questions as to why the CBI arrested him after the message itself and why did the agency not set another trap to catch him "red-handed".

Madhav's lawyers added that the agency is yet to prove their client even demanded the bribe. One advocate from the team said that the first step to raise suspicion of a public official taking bribe was to establish the demand. "But they are now saying they want to prove the demand during investigation," he said.

Abhinay Lakshman

Abhinay Lakshman

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