Bihar police said on Friday that the 2013 batch Indian Administrative Service officer was arrested for accepting bribe only after the department gathered enough evidence even as the IAS officers’ association rallied behind Jitendra Gupta, saying the action was uncalled for.
Gupta, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) at Mohania in Kaimur district, was arrested by the Vigilance Investigation Bureau late on Tuesday night. This was the first posting for Gupta, who also held the additional charge of deputy collector of land reforms (DCLR).
“The documents of trucks were seized 10 days prior to the arrest. The arrest came only after the truck owners lodged a complaint with the VIB and a trap was laid. What was the need to keep the documents for 10 days? The trucks should have been impounded on the spot and seizure list made or the trucks released with fine,” a senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
He said the due procedure was followed and there was no justification for Gupta to keep the documents with himself for so long.
“The homeguard jawan posted at his residence was caught red handed by vigilance sleuths in the process of counting Rs 80,000 paid as graft by the truckers. The vigilance wanted to carry out a raid at Gupta’s residence immediately, but it was delayed by two hours on the pretext that the house of a magistrate could not be raided like this. That time was sufficient to shift incriminating documents,” the officer added.
The state investigation bureau claimed to have secured documents of three more trucks, the reason for which is yet unexplained.
Another senior officer cited the amended Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which the Union cabinet approved last year with more stringent punishment.
“No prior approval is required for investigation in certain cases which involve the arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of taking a bribe either for himself or another,” he added.
On the arguments of IAS body that the arrest should not have been immediate and that more investigations could have been carried out, the police officer said the circumstances warranted lodging of FIR and arrest.
All three - the driver, homequard jawan and the SDM - were arrested and the documents were also recovered from the rear of the front seat cover of the DCLR’s official car.
“Nothing was done in haste. On the truck owners’ complaint, the sleuths laid a trap and the negotiations were done in their presence. The demand was for Rs 90,000, but later the deal was struck at Rs 80,000. The payment was to be made the next day as per the negotiations, which all happened before the sleuths. A driver on contract or a homeguard jawan cannot have the guts to detain trucks for 10 days on his own,” he added.
Director-general of state vigilance bureau Rabindra Kumar refused to comment on the matter.
The IAS association on Thursday strongly condemned the action and resolved to take up the matter with chief minister Nitish Kumar and governor Ram Nath Kovind.
It said that the midnight arrest of the SDM was made without following the basic tenets of law and Supreme Court guidelines and that there was no conclusive evidence against the officer.