The anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a patwari with the Chandigarh municipal corporation here on Wednesday for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 50,000. Balraj Singh was nabbed in a trap laid by the CBI at the parking lot of the Sector 43 district courts in the afternoon.
The arrest came after Manimajra resident Ramandeep Singh had approached the CBI on Monday, alleging that Balraj had sought a bribe of Rs. 2 lakh for issuing him a no-objection certificate of a property. He alleged that Balraj visited their house and demanded Rs. 2 lakh for submitting the site verification report and for getting the NOC.
CBI deputy inspector general (DIG) Mahesh Aggarwal said no substantial cash and jewellery had been recovered from Balraj's residence, though it seemed he had invested in properties. “The documents seized from his house indicate that,” he said, adding that property running into crores had been purchased by the patwari and his relatives.
The CBI said that after the deal was struck, Balraj allegedly asked the complainant to give the entire amount in two installments of Rs. 1 lakh each. Later on, Ramandeep alleged, the patwari brought his demand down to Rs. 1 lakh. The complainant had come to the district courts to give the first installment of Rs. 50,000. The complainant came with cash provided by the CBI, which also recorded a conversation between the two. The central agency laid the trap after verifying the claims of the complainant.
CBI officials later took the patwari to his Manimajra house, which was checked till late evening. Balraj will be produced in a CBI court on Thursday.
Balraj, who the joined the MC in 2008, has faced allegations of graft earlier too. SAD-BJP councillor Malkait Singh had raised the issue in a House meeting last year in May. He had alleged that Patwari Balraj Singh was demanding money from innocent villagers for issuing a no-objection certificate. Soon after, a vigilance inquiry was also ordered into the accusations. “It was unfortunate that despite several complaints, MC officials never took action against the patwari. Even the report of the vigilance inquiry into allegations against him is awaited.”
All villages under MC limit were under Balraj's jurisdiction, who was employed by the UT estate office on contract basis.
Past incidents this year:
Several cases of corruption have been reported in the city in the recent past. Here are two recent cases that hit the headlines this year:
A Punjab Police assistant sub-inspector, Bhupinder Singh, was arrested by the CBI on the charge of accepting a bribe from the owner of an immigration firm in Sector 42, Chandigarh. The ASI, posted with Jalandhar police, had been calling up Healthyway Immigration director Amit Kakkar since January, and allegedly demanding Rs. 50,000 to settle a complaint against the immigration consultant.
The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested income tax officer Rakesh Jain at his Sector 22 residence for allegedly taking a bribe of R50,000 from a city-based property dealer. The central agency had recovered Rs. 23 lakh, gold jewellery and two bricks of 2-kg gold from Jain's house during the raid.