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Rs 2 lakh bribe lands I-T chief in CBI custody

Jul 10, 2011

The CBI has arrested income-tax commissioner (appeal) Ramful Meena and a chartered accountant for demanding and accepting a bribe from an engineer.

Meena, who was arrested on Friday, had demanded Rs 10 lakh from the techie to give a closure report in his favour, but finally settled for Rs 2.20 lakh.

CBI joint director Rishi Raj Singh said, "According to the techie, Meena began harassing him after he approached him in connection with his tax assessment for 2006-07." Meena said the engineer was liable to pay Rs 20 lakh, and demanded the bribe to dispose of his appeal.

Meena, a 1987-batch IRS officer, was picked up from his official residence on Nepean Sea Road. Both Meena and the CA were produced in court on Saturday, and have been remanded in police custody till July 12.

According to Singh, Meena insisted on the bribe despite the complainant pleading with him that he was just an employee in a firm. Finally, after negotiation, Meena asked the engineer to contact U A Pai, a CA who would receive the money on his behalf.

However, the engineer approached the CBI and lodged a complaint. He was given a phone and conversation-recording equipment and sent with the money. With police officers keeping a close watch, the engineer met Pai at a hotel in Fort with the bribe money. Cornered, Pai reportedly created a scene, trying to push the policemen and insisting that he had nothing to do with the money. However, it didn't take long before he admitted to being party to the wrongdoing.

Pai revealed that Meena had instructed him to hand over the money to a person who would come with the I-T commissioner's visiting card with his signature on it. "We waited for that person, and as soon as he came, we found the card signed by Meena on him," Singh said. According to CBI sources, the man who had come with Meena's card had collected money on his behalf on three other occasions too.

Meanwhile, when the CBI team reached Meena's residence, he got suspicious and tried to throw his mobile phone out. It is learnt that Meena used to use the mobile to talk to his contacts. The I-T chief was also found to be in possession of three more cellphones, all in fictitious names and belonging to other telecom circles. It is suspected that they too were being used for similar illegal transactions.

The CBI is scrutinizing Meena's call records and looking into a bank locker in Jaipur belonging to him. It has come to light that Meena has a house each in Delhi and Dausa (Rajasthan) and a plot in Jaipur. Searches are also on at Pai's residence and two offices. Incriminating documents have reportedly been seized.

When asked about several income tax officials being caught for taking bribes but being reinstated after getting bail, Singh said, "When we receive complaints, we take action. Our job is to act on complaints and submit our reports to the court."