The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may soon question Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan in connection with irregularities in the recruitment process at two public-sector units in 2008. Paswan was minister for chemicals, fertilizers and steel with the UPA-I government at the time.
“We may question him (Paswan) in this connection. A final decision will be taken as the probe progresses,” a senior CBI official said.
This comes amid talk that Paswan is warming up to the BJP after his seat-sharing talks with the Congress and RJD in Bihar hit a roadblock.
On January 28, the agency registered two cases against 23 serving and retired officials of the Bokaro Steel Plant (BSP) and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) for irregularities in the recruitment of 13 employees to junior and middle-level management positions at both PSUs.
Agency officials said the PSU officials did not follow due process while recruiting these employees.
Advertisements were not published in reputed newspapers or in Employment News, job applications were accepted by hand, and in some cases even after the deadline.
They suspect minister Paswan may have been aware of the irregularities since such decisions could not have been taken by junior staff alone.
The agency is studying documents seized during its searches that indicate Paswan’s staff may have extended favours to the successful candidates. These include SM Razi, son of former Jharkhand governor Syed Sibtey Razi; Rajkumar Jatiya, son of Satyanarayan Jatiya, former minister with the BJP-led NDA, and Yogesh Patnaik, son of retired Ranchi High Court Judge DGR Patnaik.
Agency officials say some documents submitted by the successful recruits included the minister’s seal and supporting letters from his staff recommending them for positions in BSL.
While lodging the cases, the CBI made it clear that though favouritism seems to have been shown, there was no evidence of quid-pro-quo. The cases were lodged under sections related to criminal conspiracy, fraud and forgery of the Indian Penal Code as well as relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.