The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked 23 people including 17 Army officers in a corruption case with regard to recruitment into the force, after conducing raids at 30 locations in 13 cities on Monday.
The army officers include five lieutenant colonels, a major and a lieutenant. The CBI said they have been booked with “allegations pertaining to bribery and irregularities in recruitment of officers and other ranks through Service Selection Board.”
The matter came to light after the CBI last month received a complaint from Brigadier (Vigilance) VK Purohit who alleged that serving personnel were taking bribe in exchange of helping candidates clear the medical examinations at the Base Hospital in New Delhi.
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“Searches were conducted today at 30 places including Base Hospital, Cantonment, other Army establishments, civilian areas covering 13 cities, viz. Kapurthala, Bathinda, Delhi, Kaithal, Palwal, Lucknow, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Visakhapatnam, Jaipur, Guwahati, Jorhat and Chirangon, which led to recovery of several incriminating documents. The documents so recovered during searches are being scrutinized,” Indian Express quoted a CBI spokesperson as saying.
The agency has named Lt Col MVSNA Bhagwan of the Army Air Defence Corps, who is currently on study leave, as the mastermind of the bribery racket. He along with Naib Subedar Kuldeep Singh is alleged to have received bribes from candidates at SSB centres.
The complaint said that Kuldeep Singh “touted aspiring candidates” to Lt Col Bhagwan “in lieu of money” while the latter would help with the exam papers.
The other accused in the case are Lt Col Surender Singh of 31 SSB Centre North, Lt Col YS Chauhan of 6 Mountain Division Ordnance Unit, Lt Col Sukhdev Arora of Directorate General of Recruiting, Lt Col Vinay, GTO, Selection Centre South, Bengaluru; and Major Bhavesh Kumar. The officers and their relatives are alleged to have received kickbacks worth lakhs through cash, cheque and online transfer to help the candidates clear the exam.
Stating that it has “zero tolerance” towards corruption in its recruitment process, the Indian Army said it has handed over the case to the CBI.
“Indian Army has zero tolerance towards corrupt practices in the recruitment process for selection of suitable candidates for Indian Army. Based on a proactive operation by Army intelligence agencies, a case of possible malpractice in selection procedures at a Services Selection Centre has come to light. Since the scope of investigation involves multiple agencies including civil entities, Indian Army has decided to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation,” the Army said in a statement.