CBI search against Delhi Minister, Kejriwal hits out at Centre

NEW DELHI, May 30: The CBI has booked Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain in an alleged corruption case and conducted searches today at his residence, drawing angry reaction from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who hit out at the Prime Minister and said they will not be cowed by such “raids”.

Jain, who holds the health and PWD portfolios, is accused of violating norms in hiring architects for the public works department (PWD). He is already facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case related to alleged money laundering.

In the new case registered yesterday, the agency also named then officials of the PWD — engineer-in-chief S K Srivastava, principal director (projects) Manu Amitabh, deputy director (admin), A K Pait, project manager P C Chanana as accused.

CBI teams today carried out searches at various locations, including the residence of Jain and other accused in the matter.

In a tweet, the Minister said the agency was carrying out searches at his residence. “Professionals were hired for different projects. All were forced to leave by the CBI,” he said on the social media site.

The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry in the matter on April 5 last year and converted it into a regular case after it claimed to have found “prima facie” evidence.

During a year-long preliminary enquiry, the CBI said it found that Jain had allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with the officials of the PWD to award the tender to Soni Detective and Allied Services for hiring the creative team for the department’s works.

It alleged that the accused abused their official position to change the terms and conditions of the notice inviting the tender to bring within the eligibility criteria the company, which had no prior experience of such work.

Linking the CBI action to the proposed new norms for private hospitals “to end profiteering” announced by Jain on Monday, Kejriwal alleged that BJP wanted them scrapped but the AAP will go ahead with the policy.

“What does PM Modi want?” he tweeted on the CBI raid.

“Jain announced policy against profiteering by private hospitals and today raids were conducted at the behest of Modi Government.

“BJP wants this policy scrapped. It is a revolutionary policy and will help common people. We are not afraid of CBI. The policy will continue no matter how many raids are conducted,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the AAP dispensation was stopping “loot” of private hospitals, but the “Centre gets pain, and it gets raids done by CBI”.

AAP leaders Ashish Khetan and Raghav Chaddha alleged the CBI, Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) and Delhi Police were being used to divert the attention of public from the “good work” done by the Delhi Government.

“Our MLAs have been acquitted by courts in all cases registered against them.

“Raid is conducted on us so that an elected Government is not allowed to work. In the history of democracy in 70 years, such harassment of an elected Government has never been done by central agencies,” Khetan told reporters.

Opposition BJP attacked the Kejriwal Government, asking why Jain was continuing in the Cabinet despite facing corruption case.

“Chief Minister Kejriwal cannot take any action against him (Jain) because he is the accountant of all the black deeds of Delhi Government and if he reveals the truth then legal action will certainly be taken against the APP leaders including Kejriwal,” Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwari said in a statement.

According to the CBI, the order, issued by OSD to Jain, D C Goel, had proposed hiring of the creative team for PWD works for elaborate brain storming and planning not only architectural designs of Government buildings, but also developing cost-effective methods of construction,

In September 2015, it was proposed that young professionals from reputed institutions such as the IITs, NITs, NID, SPA and IIMs could be hired with monthly emoluments ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh for the creative team as the PWD did not have such in-house capacity, the enquiry report said.

“No minutes of any meeting held by Satyendar Jain, Minister of PWD, are available based on which this decision to hire the creative team was purportedly taken. Similarly, there was no request from the PWD for hiring of such a creative team,” the agency alleged.

The CBI alleged that the funds which were to be spent for the team from the department of the accounting head of the elevated corridor for the Barapullah-III project, were “dishonestly” changed for the purpose of Mohalla clinics on February 19, 2016.

The funds for architects and consultants could be met from savings of a project as per the CPWD manual but only in case of urgent requirement, while in this case no such urgent requirement was part of the records, it alleged.

The condition for hiring professionals from the IITs and similar esteemed institutes was gradually diluted and finally omitted from the notice for the tender issued on March 15, 2016, it claimed.

No market survey was done prior to the fixing of remunerations of the consultants, the agency alleged. (PTI)