Railgate witness Bansal testifies against nephew

India, July 16 -- Former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has testified against nephew Vijay Singla by identifying his voice in phone calls that the CBI recorded in the cash-for-lucrative postings scam, sources told HT.

"It was one of the reasons for making him a witness in the case. It was also a strategic move as we don't expect Bansal turning a hostile witness during trial," said a CBI official requesting anonymity.

During his questioning on June 4, Bansal was confronted with call recordings. "Though, Singla's voice sample has been sent for forensic examination but with Bansal confirming the voice of Singla, prosecution's case became stronger. Forensic report will corroborate Bansal's testimony," said the official.

The CBI has alleged that member (staff) of the railway board Mahesh Kumar wanted to become member (electrical). To get the post he struck a deal of R10 crore with Singla and his associates. But the post of member (electrical) was to get vacant in two months. Therefore, till then, Mahesh Kumar bargained for additional charges of general manager (western railway) and signal and telecommunication and agreed to pay R2 crore upfront for them.

The CBI, listening to the conversations of Kumar with Singla and his associates, intercepted the first installment of R90 lakh of the total bribe money at the office of Singla on May 3. After the scandal, Bansal was forced to resign on May 10.

Investigators say three facts went in Bansal's favour when they deliberated on his role before filing the charge sheet in the case against Singla, Mahesh Kumar and other accused.

One, no rules were violated when Mahesh Kumar was promoted as member (staff) of the railway board; two, Singla and his associates didn't even know about Kumar's appointment as member (staff) when it was about to take place; and third, though there were many meetings of Bansal with Mahesh Kumar not one of them bypassed the proper channel.

"For every meeting with Bansal, Mahesh Kumar went through then chairman railway board Vinay Mittal who corroborated it in his statement," said the official.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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