CBI books cases over ex-J&K governor Satya Pal Malik’s bribery charges

Six months after former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik claimed he was offered Rs 300-crore bribes to clear two files including one related to an RSS leader, the CBI has registered two cases in the matter and is conducting searches at 14 locations in connection with the charges.

The searches, according to the CBI, are being conducted at Jammu, Srinagar, Delhi, Mumbai, Noida, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and Darbhanga (Bihar). The premises are associated with a serving IAS officer and three former officials of Chenab Valley Power Projects Pvt Ltd, according to the investigative agency.

“The CBI had registered two separate cases on the request from the Jammu & Kashmir government on the allegations of malpractices (i) in the award of a contract of the J&K Employees Health Care Insurance Scheme to a private company and the release of Rs. 60 crore (approx.) in the year 2017-18 and (ii) in the award of the contract worth Rs 2,200 crore (approx.) of civil works of the Kiru Hydro Electric Power project to a private firm in the year 2019,” the CBI said in a statement.

The investigative agency identified the IAS officer as Naveen Kumar Choudhary, principal secretary agriculture production and farmers welfare, Jammu and Kashmir. The hydel power company’s former managing director MS Babu and two former directors M K Mittal and Arun Kumar Mishra are three others whose premises are searched by the agency.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said last month that Malik’s allegations were serious. “Bade pad par baithey huey vyakti ne koi baat kahi hai to desh mein jo sab se vishawniye sanstha hai jaanch ke mamley mein, humney swakriti beiji hai in dono prakarno ki janch ke liye’’ (As a person holding a high office had said something, we have given our consent to the CBI for investigations in both the matters), he had told reporters in Jammu. “Aur janch ke baad, doodh ka goodh aur pani ka pani ho jayega (And truth will come out after the investigations),” he added.

Malik, at present the governor of Meghalaya, last year alleged that as Jammu and Kashmir governor, he had received two files, one pertinent to “Ambani’’ and the other to an “RSS functionary’’. “One of the secretaries told me that these are shady deals, but he can get Rs150 crore each. I told him that I had come to Jammu and Kashmir with five kurta-pajamas and would leave with that only,” the former governor said. “I alerted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who told me that there should be no compromise on corruption,’’ Malik said at an event at Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.

While Malik did not say anything about those files, he was apparently referring to the government’s deal with Reliance General Insurance, part of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group. Malik had cancelled a deal with Reliance General Insurance to provide health insurance to government employees in October 2018.

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