Maharashtra government suspends archeology department director involved in bribery case | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra government suspends archeology department director involved in bribery case

Jun 12, 2024 01:50 PM IST

In addition to the suspension, the government has directed the department to conduct an audit of department head Tejas Garge's recent decisions

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has suspended Tejas Madan Garge, director of Maharashtra Archaeology and Museums, for his alleged involvement in a bribe case being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) Nashik unit. In addition to the suspension, the government has directed the department to conduct an audit of Garge's recent decisions and develop a policy to curb corrupt practices.

Last month, the ACB's Nashik unit booked assistant director Aarti Aley, 41, while she was accepting a bribe of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1.5 lakh at her residence. Representational Image
Last month, the ACB's Nashik unit booked assistant director Aarti Aley, 41, while she was accepting a bribe of 1.5 lakh at her residence. Representational Image

Last month, the ACB's Nashik unit booked assistant director Aarti Aley, 41, while she was accepting a bribe of 1.5 lakh at her residence. During the investigation, the agency found evidence of Garge's involvement, who has been absconding since then and has moved the court for anticipatory bail. Questions were raised over the delay in action against Garge, whose responsibilities have already been transferred to another officer.

On Tuesday, Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar signed the file for Garge's suspension with retrospective effect from May 16. "The orders have been issued by the cultural affairs department today. An internal departmental inquiry will also be conducted against him," said an official from the cultural affairs department.

According to the complaint, Aley had allegedly demanded a bribe of 1.5 lakh to issue a no-objection certificate for a factory unit in Nashik that the complainant wanted to start for extracting oil from rubber tyres. The ACB caught Aley red-handed while accepting the bribe at her Nashik residence. The ACB unit had Aley call Garge to inform him about the money, and he directed her to keep the cash with her. The NOC was cleared by the head office in Mumbai, which is headed by Garge.

The ACB has not arrested Aley on humanitarian grounds, as she had delivered a baby just eight days before the raid in the second week of May. Both Aley and Garge have been booked in the bribery case.

When asked about the delay in action, Mungantiwar said, "There was no deliberate delay, but it was because of administrative reasons. I was busy in the Lok Sabha polls, and our principal secretary was abroad. We have now taken action and also corrective steps to avoid such things in the future."

Meanwhile, in a letter to the cultural department, Mungantiwar has directed an audit of the decisions taken by Garge and Aley in the past few years. "Also, the audit of the NOCs issued by these officers should also be conducted. A study committee should be constituted to introduce more transparency in the affairs of the department," the letter states.

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