Wednesday, June 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Nationwide CBI raids on govt officials
66 places raided, assets worth crores seized
Tribune News Service and agencies

New Delhi, June 11
In a major countrywide swoop, the CBI today carried out raids in 66 places against senior government officials belonging to various departments, including Oil Selection Board Chairman M.R. Agnihotri in Chandigarh.

Among those whose premises were raided by the agency’s anti-corruption branch was Income Tax Commissioner in Hyderabad Mythily Rani, from whom assets worth Rs 2.5 crore had been reportedly recovered so far, CBI sources said here tonight.

The agency was also conducting extensive raids against Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, Jaipur, R.A. Verma, besides several other officers in Chennai, Mumbai, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad Guwahati, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna and Ranchi, the sources said.

According to CBI spokesman S.M. Khan, the raids were still continuing and the details were awaited.

He said the raids had so far unearthed assets with more than Rs 3 crore. The largest seizure was made from the residence of Mrs Mythily Rani, where the CBI had so far seized Rs 1.5 crore in cash, Rs 73 lakh in fixed deposits and jewellery worth more than Rs 20 lakh.

A total of Rs 22 lakh and the keys of five luxury cars were recovered from the possession of Mr Verma. The details of the seizure made at the residence of Mr Agnihotri were awaited, Mr Khan said.

This is the second major drive of the agency in the past three months. The CBI had carried out extensive searches in March this year.

The spokesman said Mrs Mythily Rani was a 1979 batch official of the Indian Revenue Service. The agency had also found evidence indicating the involvement of her husband, an Andhra Pradesh government official, in the huge assets and properties she amassed through corrupt means.

In today’s raids about 60 officials are believed to have been targeted.

Asked if the raids were conducted to divert the attention of the people from the embarrassment the agency faced in the Delhi High Court in the Bofors case yesterday, the spokesman replied in the negative.

“The raids were planned much earlier and there is nothing to connect the two,” was his response.

To a question as to how the CBI could target such a large number of officials at one stroke, he said the raids were conducted on the basis of information available about the illegal practice of these officials.

The CBI spokesman said the Joint Commissioner in Jaipur was found to be in possession of four luxury cars. The agency was ascertaining whether he had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, he said.

Corruption cases were registered against officials of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Insurance officials in Chennai and Telecom Department officials in Guwahati, he said.

CHANDIGARH (OC): A crack team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today conducted raids in the palatial Sector 9 house of the Chairman of the Oil Selection Board, Justice M.R. Agnihotri. Late at night CBI spokesperson, Mr S.M. Khan, while speaking over phone from Delhi, confirmed that Justice Agnihotri had been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The charge against him is that of abusing his official position, Mr Khan confirmed while adding that details of seizure, if any, would be known only by tomorrow morning. During the tenure of Mr Agnihotri, about 150 petrol stations were allotted. The team, led by a senior official of the CBI from Delhi, was accompanied by senior officials of the local office of the CBI.

The team which was part of the countrywide raids on corrupt public servants, had reached the house of Justice Agnihotri around 4 p.m and carried out their job till about 9 p.m before leaving after questioning various people available in the house of Mr Agnihotri. CBI officials at the spot were tight-lipped about the details of the recoveries. Any questions were stonewalled with a reply that the details of all recoveries were being tabulated at the Delhi office. Sources in the CBI said certain documents had been seized from the house but the officials refused to comment on the contents of the papers.

When the Tribune team reached the house of Justice Agnihotri, people in his house feigned ignorance about any raid saying someone had died in the neighbourhood thus the family was busy with that.

Justice Agnihotri had retired as acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High court about six years ago.

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