The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked the former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik to provide information regarding an alleged insurance scam in the Union territory, officials said on Friday.
Malik, who served his mandates as governor of several states to completion, will be questioned by the CBI for the second time in seven months.
After completing his duties as governor of Meghalaya, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, and Bihar, he was questioned in October of last year.
The CBI’s action comes just a week after Malik gave an interview to The Wire in which he criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre, particularly regarding how it handled Jammu and Kashmir, where he previously served as governor before the state was bifurcated into Union territories.
In response to the news, Malik said that the CBI had asked him to appear at the agency’s Akbar Road guesthouse in New Delhi for “certain clarifications.”
“They want certain clarifications for which they want my presence. I am going to Rajasthan, so I have given them dates from April 27 to 29 when I am available,” he said.
In conjunction with allegations of corruption made by Malik over the allocation of contracts for civil work of Rs 2,200 crore relating to the Kiru hydroelectric power project in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as a group medical insurance scheme for government employees, the CBI registered two FIRs.
Malik stated that between August 23, 2018, and October 30, 2019, while serving as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he received an offer of a Rs 300 crore bribe in exchange for closing two files.
Reliance General Insurance and Trinity Re-Insurance Brokers Limited have been named as the accused in the agency’s FIR about a contentious health insurance scheme for Jammu and Kashmir government employees that Malik allegedly cleared at a meeting of the state administrative council on August 31, 2018.
“… unknown officials of the finance department of the government of Jammu and Kashmir, by abusing their official positions in a conspiracy and connivance with Trinity Reinsurance Brokers Limited, Reliance General Insurance Company Limited and other unknown public servants and private persons, have committed the offences of criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct,” one of the FIRs alleges.
It also claims that they “cheated the government of Jammu and Kashmir” by causing “wrongful loss to the state exchequer during the period of 2017 and 2018 and pecuniary advantage to themselves during that period.”
The CBI has claimed that the e-tendering norms were not followed in the second FIR regarding suspected irregularities in the awarding of contracts for the civil work package of the Kiru hydroelectric power project.
‘The case was registered on allegations of malpractices in the award of the contract worth Rs 2,200 crore (approximately) of civil works of the Kiru Hydro Electric Power Project (HEP) to a private company in the year 2019,’ it has said.
The agency has detained former Chenab Valley Power Projects (Private) Limited chairman Navin Kumar Chaudhary, former managing director M. S. Babu, former directors M. K. Mittal and Arun Kumar Mishra, and Patel Engineering Limited.
“Though a decision was taken in the 47th board meeting of CVPPL (Chenab Valley Power Projects Limited) for re-tender through e-tendering with the reverse auction after the cancellation of the ongoing tendering process, the same was not implemented (as per the decision taken in the 48th board meeting) and the tender was finally awarded to Patel Engineering Limited,” the FIR said.
In the interview, Malik also asserted that during his tenure as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, there had been intelligence about the potential for a “fidayeen” attack against the Army and paramilitary troops.
He asserted that the 2019 Pulwama incident, which resulted in the deaths of 40 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force, was caused by security shortcomings.
Malik added that the CRPF’s ask for an aircraft to help with personnel transportation was turned down.
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