The CBI has filed an FIR against Nagaland's Additional Secretary (Agriculture) Jitendra Gupta and two other officials working in the Fostering Climate-Resilient Upland Farming System (FOCUS) project for allegedly receiving bribes of more than Rs 2 crore.
The CBI has initiated the action on a complaint from the Air Intelligence Unit of the Income Tax Department, which had intercepted 2013-batch IAS officer Gupta and two of his co-passengers -- the then Deputy Conservator of Forests Rampaukai and Veterinary Assistant Surgeon in the Animal Husbandry Department Auto Vihoi -- who were travelling from Dimapur to New Delhi on December 17, 2023, in a flight allegedly with huge cash.
After registering the FIR, the CBI conducted searches at the office of FOCUS in Kohima on February 8.
The Income Tax Department had seized Rs 71.50 lakh -- Rs 34.50 lakh from Vihoi's check-in bag, Rs 21 lakh from Rampaukai's check-in bag and Rs 16 lakh from Gupta's cabin bag -- during the proceeding, they said.
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During the interrogation by the I-T Department, Vihoi alleged that the cash belonged to Gupta, who had collected kickbacks from various people associated with the implementation of the FOCUS project. He said that Gupta had handed over the cash to him at his residence on December 16, 2023 to take it to Delhi the next day.
Rampaukai also said that the cash belonged to Gupta, who had collected it from various people associated with the project for approving their bills, the FIR alleged.
The I-T Department had found that Rampaukai was regularly collecting bribes from people involved in the project, and in the last few months, he had handed over Rs 1.5 crore to Gupta, it alleged.
Vihoi also alleged that Rarpaukai used to collect money as kickbacks from various district project officers, including him, and he had given bribes of around Rs 50 lakh directly to Gupta last month.
Gupta, a Bihar cadre officer, was sent to Nagaland on inter-cadre deputation in December 2020.
In 2016, Gupta, then posted as Sub-divisional Magistrate Mohaniya, was booked by the Bihar Vigilance Department in a case of alleged bribery during the interception of overloaded trucks.
Gupta had alleged that his actions against the transport 'mafia' had enraged them, and the allegations against him were aimed at framing him in a forged case.
His contention was upheld by the Patna High Court on October 28, 2016, which had ordered quashing of the FIR against the officer.
In 2019, the Delhi High Court had directed the central government to initiate an inter-cadre transfer of Gupta forthwith and issue the order to shift him out of the Bihar cadre within four weeks.
While issuing the order, the high court had rebuked the Bihar government for "humiliating, harassing and victimising" an IAS officer who took a tough stand against the transport 'mafia' despite threats to his life.
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