Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The housekeeping racket

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The premier investigating agency has the knack of getting into the news for the wrong reasons. This time, it is over deputation of its staff to private residences as helpers, drivers and cooks. Is this how public money should be spent? [/h2]

By Vishwas Kumar and Prabir Biswas 

Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha got a lot of flak for misusing his official residence to conduct meetings with several high-profile businessmen pro-bed for various scams. Now, another case has surfaced, this time of a junior CBI official who has misused his authority to post several CBI staff at the private residence of a relative in Noida, a non-CBI official. What is galling is that these staff draw their salaries from the CBI, thereby violating rules and regulations.

According to sources, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Pankaj Singh, who was posted at the CBI Headquarters, had deputed five staff to the residence of his close relative, RK Singh, former home secretary and presently, BJP MP from Arrah, Bihar. They are of the rank of constables and head constables and are working as helpers, drivers and a cook for more than two years.


The question is why would Pankaj Singh oblige his high-profile relative when there is clearly a violation of service rules? Sources say RK Singh helped Pankaj get a three-year CBI deputation from the CRPF where he was working, simply because he wanted his own man there. Pankaj is a non-IPS officer and the only way to bring him into the CBI was to fill in the vacancy of additional SP, which does not require one to be from Indian Police Service. Thereafter, he was promoted as SP.

Incidentally, RK Singh and Ranjit Sinha were classmates and Pankaj was brought in when Sinha was director CBI and RK Singh was home secretary. As per the CBI manual, around 40 percent of the staff can join the agency on deputation from other government organizations for a minimum period of three years.

India Legal accessed documents showing the duty chart of various CBI officials. They show that five employees were posted at RK Singh’s residence. Their names are: M Jagadishwara (constable), DN Choubay (head constable), Suraj Bahadhur (constable-cum-cook), Pramod Kumar Tomar (head constable and driver) and MJ Rao (constable). However, in the CBI’s admin and training division record accessed by India Legal, these employees were shown posted at the CBI Headquarters. This, says sources, is to facilitate them to withdraw salaries and other employment benefits from the premier agency. And if they go on leave, new staff is posted at Singh’s residence, obviously at the behest of Pankaj.


These were posted on the CBI website



Incidentally, Pankaj is well-known in CBI for using deputed constables and head constables for personal or household work for a month or two, before allocating them official work. But in RK Singh’­s case, it has gone on for more than two years.


These staff are mostly deputed in different units of CBI to carry out “menial work” and assist officials in investigation and administration. With the agency’s hands filled with high-profile cases like 2G scam, Coalgate and Saradha scam, there is an acute crunch of “office helpers” to prepare and store enormous paper work. For example, there are around 100 personnel helping to unravel the 2G scam, including several helpers who prepare photocopies and carry voluminous documents to court hearings daily.

However, Singh is not the only retired babu who is enjoying CBI’s hospitality. A list assessed by India Legal shows a rampant “housekeeping” racket run by the CBI for years at the cost of the public exchequer. There is former CBI director, AP Singh, who had to recently resign from the UPSC for his friendship with hawala dealer Moin Qureshi, who still enjoys the “service” of six CBI staffers. They are: Head constables Raghbir Singh and Ram Kailash Yadav and constables Balbir Singh, Biresh Ghosh, Kishan Chand and Durga Lal Giri.

There are others bureaucrats too, who have illegally used deputed staff. There is Alka Sirohi, who, as secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (of which the CBI is a part), had head constable, Virender Singh, assigned at her home for personal duties 15 years back. Today, she is a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), yet, Singh continues to serve at her house.
India’s steel frame, CBI, is, obviously, on shaky grounds.

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