Mumbai, Feb 25 (IANS) Chief Post Master General of Maharashtra and Goa M.S. Bali has been caught while accepting a Rs.2-crore bribe, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Thursday, describing it as the biggest such case involving a government official in 60 years. He has been sent to a week's CBI custody.
Investigators who nabbed Bali Wednesday night while taking the bribe for giving a no-objection certificate (NOC) for a property deal also recovered Rs.34 lakh in cash from his south Mumbai residence, and over $10,000 as well as British pound 3,050 and euros 3,470, packed in four suitcases.
"This is the biggest single case of a bribe involving a senior government servant in the last 60 years," CBI Western Region Director Rishi Raj Singh told reporters.
Bali was brought before the special CBI judge S.P. Hayatnagarkar, who remanded him in CBI custody till March 3, along with two accomplices, Harsh Dalmiya and his father Arun Dalmiya.
A 1970 Indian Postal Service officer holding the rank of additional secretary in the central government, Bali also owns two expensive cars, a bank locker in Gwalior and 45 bottles of imported liquor.
The CBI, Singh said, was making arrangements to open the locker and check its contents.
Besides this, Bali also owns large properties in Faridkot, Panchkhula, Dwarka, New Delhi, Bhopal and Gurgaon, totally worth over Rs.1 crore.
He also has 22 accounts in different banks and Public Provident Fund accounts with a total of more than Rs. 26 lakh deposited in them. The CBI sleuths also recovered 7 high-end laptops, totally worth around Rs.5 lakh, Singh said.
Bali had demanded the Rs.2 crore bribe in return for granting an NOC to develop a plot of land belonging to a private builder in the Mira Road suburb of Thane district, he said.
Relating the events leading to Bali's arrest, Singh said the government wanted to construct a post office on the land.
"The property owner offered to develop the property and also give 25 percent of it for the post office. For this, an NOC was required from the CPMG (chief post master general)," he said.
Meanwhile, the Thane civic authorities were also writing to the postal authorities to expedite the proposal for the new post office. Former corporator Rita Shah, who is the complainant in the case, was also pursuing the matter and met Bali in his office and submitted the documents for getting an NOC.
Shah was then approached by a man called Harish Dalmiya, who ran a consultancy firm in Nariman Point and asked her to meet him in connection with the pending NOC.
When she went to meet him, she was surprised to find all the papers she had submitted to the CPMG in Dalmiya's office.
"Dalmiya assured her that the NOC work would be done in return for a bribe of Rs.2 crore," Singh said, adding Shah approached the CBI to lodge a complaint and the investigating agency then set a trap for Bali.
Meanwhile, Shah was taken by Dalmiya to meet Bali where he said that the work would be done in consideration of Rs.2 crore and asked her to hand over the money to Dalmiya at his office. When she did, he issued her the NOC.
Bali came to collect the money from Dalmiya and Shah Wednesday at Moshe Restaurant in Colaba only to find CBI sleuths lying in wait for him. He was arrested and Rs.1.25 crore, purported to be his share of the deal, seized from him. The remaining amount was probably the Dalmiyas' share.
Shah declined to comment on the matter. "Since it involved such a senior central government officer, I thought it must be brought to the notice of an agency like the CBI," was all she said, when approached by media persons.
Meanwhile, CBI raids are continuing at Bali's official residence in Belvedere Apartments in the posh Pedder Road are of south Mumbai, the residences of the Dalmiyas, and Bali's other properties and bank accounts.