Thursday, May 16, 2013

CBI chief Ranjit Sinha under fire for 'acting out of vendetta'

NEW DELHI: CBI chief Ranjit Sinha on Wednesday found himself at the centre of a raging controversy with the railway police association attacking him for targeting officers out of vendetta and BJP accusing the agency of a political motive in chargesheeting senior Rajasthan leader Gulab Chand Kataria.

BJP slammed CBI saying the chargesheet against Kataria, a former state home minister, in the Sohrabuddin encounter case had been filed on the basis of slender evidence and that the move was consistent with past efforts to link Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to the case.

While BJP accused CBI of working at the behest of Congress, All India Railway Protection Force Association general secretary U S Jha said Sinha was going after railway officials who complained against him to the Central Vigilance Commission when he was director general of RPF.

Sinha was shipped out by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee and was replaced by P K Mehta. Administrative circles have been buzzing with speculation that Sinha may be tempted to settle scores as CBI investigates the bribery case involving former railway minister Pawan Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla.

Sinha had indicated a few days ago that the agency would be probing contracts, postings and transfers and a letter to the railway board last month on Jha occupying two government flats despite having retired, apart from another accommodation allotted to the association, set the cat among the pigeons.

In a separate development, BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Vasundhara Raje said the supplementary chargesheet against Kataria had been filed while Sinha had rushed to say that evidence against Bansal in the cash for posting scandal was week.

"How can Sinha comment on the evidence against Bansal - which is mounting by the day - when the former minister has not even been questioned? On the other hand, CBI has taken to filing supplementary chargesheets in cases where it has not been able to gather evidence in the first instance," Jaitley said.

Contacted by TOI, Sinha said, "I don't want to comment."

Jha, however, said Sinha was bending regulations to settle scores. "The issue of accommodation does not come under the domain of CBI and railways has an in-built mechanism to prevent such alleged misuse. We have legal orders of railways for the accommodation. Action of CBI is the result of its chief Ranjit Sinha's vendetta against me as I had complained against him before the Central Vigilance Commission about alleged corrupt practices," he said.

Jha claimed that in the complaint to CVC, he had said that Sinha's acolytes in RPF were claiming that those who complained against him will "face dire consequences" once the officer became CBI director. Sinha was director general of RPF from November 14, 2008 to May 19, 2011 before being repatriated to the home ministry on "compulsory wait" till he was appointed ITBP chief.

Jha told TOI that he was going to file a defamation suit against Sinha. "He is threatening the entire railways by arresting one officer (Mahesh Kumar linked to Singla). These flats he wants to probe were allotted even when Sinha was DG RPF. Why didn't he do anything then," he asked.

The railway association has said that it is ready for a probe by a special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court which should probe Sinha's assets as well.

Reacting to the association's allegations, CBI in a press statement said, "CBI had informed the railway board in April, 2013 that a retired officer holding post of all India secretary general, RPF (who had retired in 2010), was allegedly personally occupying two government accommodation and was also in possession of one more accommodation allotted to All India RPF Association."

The agency added, "The CBI has conveyed this irregularity (which is also in violation of Delhi High Court orders), to the railway board for necessary action as per rules."

Asked why CBI was taking interest in the case, a CBI spokesperson said, "Sharing of such information regarding misuse of public money for necessary action by the concerned department is a normal practice and duty of the CBI. Allegation of impropriety/vendetta by any officer of the CBI is completely misplaced, incorrect and baseless."


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