The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked a lieutenant colonel of the Indian Army, posted in Andaman and Nicobar, and five others for alleged corruption in procurement of ration for the armed forces. The officer has been identified as Lt Col Abhishek Chandra.
“Credible source information has been received that Lt Col Abhishek Chandra, the then SSO (Contract & Victualling), CLOGO Section, HQs Andaman & Nicobar Command, Delanipur, Haddo, Port Blair, during the year 2018, has demanded and accepted bribes frequently from the different private suppliers in connivance with field officers posted in Base Victualling Yard, Andaman and Nicobar Command, Minnie Bay, Port Blair…in the matter of procurement of ration and other items for the department and its canteen store,” the CBI FIR said.
The FIR has named two suppliers, Rochak Agro Food Products based in Kolkata, and another represented by a Muthu, as having paid bribes to the officer. Apart from Chandra and Muthu, the FIR has named Rochak representatives Ghanshyam Choudhary, Shubham Choudhary and Dayal Chandra Das, and another Armyman, Routh, as accused.
According to the CBI, in 2018, Chandra entered into a criminal conspiracy with Shubham and Das to extend favours for bribes. Using his official position, Chandra allegedly ensured that the contract for supply of food items, including spices, to Base Victualling Yard, Minnie Bay, Port Blair, without a price negotiation committee was awarded to Rochak Agro Food Products for a year. He allegedly extended the favour in return of a bank guarantee of the company, deposited for a previous contract with Base Victualling Yard, Port Blair.
According to the CBI, Chandra also extended favours to Das by allowing him to sign an agreement on behalf of Rochak Agro Food Products after the tender was awarded to the company.
The agency has alleged that Chandra had demanded and agreed to accept a bribe of Rs 75,000 from Subham for this. In March 2018, Chandra allegedly instructed Shubham to send the bribe in the form of two cheques or in the form of two Tanishq gift vouchers.
But as Shubham could not arrange gift cheques or vouchers, Chandra directed him in April 2018 to deposit the bribe amount in two parts, in two separate accounts, the CBI has said in the FIR. Accordingly, Shubham transferred Rs 35,000 and Rs 40,000 in the two accounts on April 24, 2018 through NEFT from a Rochak Agro Food Products bank account maintained with State Bank of India, the CBI added.
According to the FIR, Shubham worked “under close guidance” of his father Ghanshyam, who was “the final authority in all the decision making of the company”. According to the CBI, Shubham, acting on Chandra’s advice, directed Das to negotiate with the officers posted in BV Yard so that they did not raise objections regarding late arrival of consignments or discrepancy in materials supplied.
Accordingly, in March 2018, Routh, who was posted in BV Yard, allegedly agreed to accept a bribe of Rs 10,000 for not raising any objection regarding supplies from Rochak Agro Food Products. This amount was paid on April 19 that year at Routh’s office, CBI has said.
According to the CBI, Chandra also demanded Rs 3 lakh from Muthu, the representative of another supplier. Accordingly, on June 6, 2018, Muthu allegedly tried to handover Rs 1 lakh as first instalment by meeting him near Chennai Medical at Port Blair. But after Chandra refused to take less than Rs 3 lakh, Muthu used his ATM card and gave Rs 2.5 lakh to Chandra on the same day, the CBI FIR has said.