No proof of Bansal's role in bribery, says CBI

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) The CBI Friday sought to justify its decision to make Pawan Kumar Bansal a witness in the alleged Rs.10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery scandal by saying that the agency has not found any evidence of the former railway minister's involvement in it.

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official said Bansal was not present when suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar met his nephew Vijay Singla.

The agency, which filed its charge sheet July 2 in a special CBI court, said it could not find any record of conversation between Bansal and Singla regarding Mahesh Kumar's appointment for the post of Railway Board member (electrical).

"Mahesh Kumar had only met some ministers officially. There was no telephonic conversation (between them) and Kumar did not meet the ministers privately," said a CBI official.

Mahesh Kumar met ministers on his own as he was losing faith in Singla's ability to fix the meetings with the ministers.

CBI Special Judge Swarna Kanta Sharma Thursday took cognizance of the charge sheet and posted the matter for proceedings on July 11.

The probe agency in its charge sheet has named 10 people as accused: Singla, Mahesh Kumar, alleged middlemen Sandeep Goyal, Samir Sandhir, Sushil Daga, Ajay Garg, Rahul Yadav and businessman Manjunath and his aides P.V. Murali and Venugopal.

Barring Murali and Venugopal, the CBI has arrested eight others named in the charge sheet.

All the accused have been formally charged for the offence of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency filed a list of 90 prosecution witnesses along with the charge sheet and named Bansal as the 39th witness.

Besides Bansal, the CBI has also named Railway Board's former chairman Vinay Mittal, who retired July 1, as a prosecution witness.

It also named Railway Board's Joint Secretary (Confidential) P. Rajeshkaran and Joint Director (Vigilance) R. Vijayan Nair, as witnesses. Several officials from various banks have also been named as witnesses.

Manjunath and Goyal, managing director of GG Tronics India Pvt. Ltd., helped Mahesh Kumar in arranging money to give bribe to Singla and were to get favours from him after his appointment as Railway Board member (electrical).

"There is evidence that Singla accepted a bribe of Rs.90 lakh on May 3 in his office, which was the part-payment of total bribe of Rs.10 crore for the alleged appointment of (Mahesh) Kumar as member (electrical)," the charge sheet said.

Singla was the "main person" whose influence was to be used for the appointment of Kumar, the CBI said.

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