The Anti-Corruption Bureau on Monday arrested two government officials for allegedly taking bribes to award tenders under the National Health Mission (NHM).
The duo – Indian Administrative Service official Niraj K Pawan and Rajasthan Administrative Service bureaucrat Anil Kumar Agarwal – was questioned for 12 days before the anti-graft watchdog took them into custody.
The bureau registered a case against several NHM officials, including former additional mission director Pawan and a middleman, under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code on May 17. It arrested three of them – chief accountant Deepa Gupta, storekeeper Joji Varghese and middleman Ajit Kumar Soni – the following day.
The case was registered on the basis of a complaint filed on October 28 last year by a private firm, which alleged that Soni had demanded a bribe for awarding a tender on Pawan’s behalf.
ACB officers, who have been questioning Pawan since May 18, finally arrested him around 4.30 pm on Monday. They recovered $4,100, around 85 liquor bottles and Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from a raid at his residence. Agarwal, NHM additional director, was also arrested the same day.
The 32-page FIR against the government officials includes transcripts of conversations between Soni, Pawan, Gupta, Varghese and others.
The private firm alleged in its complaint that that ever since Pawan was appointed to the mission, Soni became a single-window authority for getting the tenders passed and the demand for bribes increased. The middleman would allegedly blacklist candidates if they did not come through him. The complainant claimed that the duo sought 5% of the tender amount before allocating the work order, and 12% before releasing the payment.
While Pawan and Agarwal will be produced before a court on Tuesday, the other three accused are in the bureau’s custody.
The state government has removed Pawan from the agriculture department, where he was posted as the commissioner and special secretary.