Railgate: Singla tried to fix education post too, CBI says
CHANDIGARH: Former Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla and his Chandigarh-based aides were not only allegedly involved in leveraging on railway jobs and contracts but also tried to influence the appointment of a director in Mohali-based National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, according to the CBI chargesheet in the Railgate scam.
Singla is accused of receiving Rs 90 lakh bribe from railway official Mahesh Kumar, who was allegedly lobbying for the post of member (electrical) in the Railway Board or be allowed to keep additional charge of general manager, Western Railway, and is currently in jail.
Singla and his group tried to fix the post of a director at NIPER, which has an annual budget of approximately Rs 55 crore, according to conversations intercepted by the CBI. NIPER is a research institute for post graduate and doctorate students of pharmacology.
In a conversation transcript dated April 19 this year, Singla assured railway scam co-accused and his close friend Sandeep Goyal that he (Singla) had briefed Bansal about the replacement of NIPER's director.
NIPER is an autonomous institute set up by the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers.
"Kehta-ji mai kehta. Mama-ji nu NIPER wali gal (I am talking to mama-ji about the NIPER job)," Singla told Goyal. In the same conversation, Goyal asked Singla to facilitate appointment of students from the pharmaceutical institute with Bansal and to safeguard the interests of one of his family members working at a top post.
"Apni utthe bhabhi hai director...IT di head hai Prabha Garg.... Te mama-ji de kan wich paana hai ki director remove hona chahiye. Mamaji toh students ne appointment litti hai (My sister-in-law is Prabha Garg is IT head... It should be put into mama-ji's ears that the director must be removed)," said Goyal, invoking a prompt reassurance from Singla again.
These transcripts were submitted by the CBI on July 3 in its 4,010-page chargesheet, a copy of which is with TOI, before the Patiala House court in Delhi as evidence in the Rs 10-crore Railgate scam.
A shocked NIPER's officiating director K K Bhutani told TOI that these transcripts undermine the autonomy of the institute and that he would take up the matter with the board of governors on August 12. As per procedure, the board of governors' panel is to recommend the director from a group of 12 people to the President of India at this meeting.
"Such conversations are damning considering that the board of governors at NIPER has for the past six months been planning to install a director. And now that meeting is just two days away, I also see it as a conspiracy as recently the board of governors had fired three men close to certain politicians of Chandigarh," said Bhutani.
The three sacked NIPER professors included the then head of the intellectual property rights department Parikshit Bansal, then head of biotechnology department Nilanjan Roy and assistant professor of pharmaceutics department Neeeraj Kumar.
Bhutani has been the officiating director at NIPER since January 1, 2010.