Defence scam: CBI quizzes board members, beneficiaries

Two years after taking over the Kanpur defence recruitment scam case in December last year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has questioned several people linked to the case, including beneficiaries Utkarsh Srivatsava and Ravi Kant Pandey, sources said on Tuesday.

A CBI source related to the probe told IANS, “The agency questioned beneficiaries Srivastava and Pandey at its office in Lucknow on February 1 and February 9 respectively.”

The source said that the agency also confronted Srivatsava along with Mohommad Alim, one of the board members. They were called on the same day on February 1.

The source said that two out of five beneficiaries and accused have reported to the CBI till date.

The source said that CBI also questioned another board member Sunil Kumar on February 24 this year.

The CBI action is based on the case it filed against Santosh Kumar Tiwari, Deputy Controller in the Material Division of the Controllerate of Quality Assurance CQA(M), who was the presiding officer of the recruitment board and beneficiaries Pandey, Srivatsava, Arti Gupta, Pratibha Mishra and Arpit Singh and other unknown persons.

The officials in Kanpur had organised a recruitment drive for six posts of Lower Division Clerk (LDC) in the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, which comes under the Union Ministry of Defence. For this purpose, advertisements were issued in 2015 and appointments were made in 2017.

An internal inquiry committee headed by Brigadier Sudhindra Itnal had found serious irregularities in the recruitment process. Following the submission of a report in this regard, the recruitment board itself was dissolved by the competent authority and the services of the appointed LDCs were terminated on November 28, 2018.

In a letter to the CBI on August 10, 2018, the Department of Defence Production (DDP) mentioned “serious irregularities” of a criminal nature concerning the appointment of six LDCs in 2016 by the now-dissolved recruitment board in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. This letter was sent to the apex investigative agency on the orders of Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre who acted on the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission.

The official said the agency had done a preliminary enquiry against Tiwari, Sunil Kumar, SSO-II, CQA (M) Kanpur (member) and Mohammad Alim, AE (QA), SQAE (GS), Kanpur (Member) and Colonel A.K. Gandhi, Joint Controller, CQA (M), CQA (GS) and CQA (T&C), Kanpur in 2020.

In the preliminary enquiry, it was revealed that an advertisement for filing four posts of the LDCs in CQA (M) Kanpur was published in various newspapers. Later on the number of posts were increased from four to six, including three for the general category, one each for the OBC, SC and Physically Handicapped (PH) category in March 2015.

It was also revealed that 4,181 candidates had applied for the said post out of which 952 candidates were found eligible for the written test.

It said that on June 22, 2016, a Board of Officers was constituted by C. Devakinandan, Controller Kanpur to conduct the recruitment for the said posts. It said that the board comprised Tiwari, Neha Agarwal, a Scientist, Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim.

It further said that a written test was held on June 26, 2016 in which a total of 517 candidates appeared. “After completion of the written examination, the invigilators had collected the answer sheets and submitted the same in the room of Tiwari in an unsealed condition which was against the rule,” it alleged.

“In the enquiry it was also revealed that answer sheets were evaluated by the BOO under the supervision of Tiwari in his room and Agarwal who was an external member was not called for the same,” the official said.

He also said that on the basis of the evaluation of the answer sheets, 110 candidates were qualified for the typing test, out of which only 95 appeared for the same on September 28, 2016.

“The PH candidates were exempted from the typing test. Total 54 candidates and two PH candidates were qualified for the same post and a final merit list was published by DGQA website on November 25, 2016. Out of six selected candidates, five candidates joined their duties whereas one candidate Vivek Chandra did not join as he was selected elsewhere,” the official said.

“Investigation further revealed that there were manipulations done in the selection process by Tiwari, who altered the marks obtained by candidates at the time of rechecking,” the official said, adding that Tiwari, was also involved in evaluation of answer sheets of written exam wherein he evaluated overwritten answer sheets in contravention of the instructions of the DGCA.

“The alteration was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were also changed by him after the evaluation. The answer sheets were rechecked by Tiwari and during rechecking he altered the final marks of the candidates without the knowledge of concerned invigilators,” the official alleged.

The preliminary enquiry further found that Singh, who got selected under the PH quota did not have the requisite handicapped certificate at the time of submission of the application as well as on June 26, 2016 the day of written exam and he obtained the same on August 27, 2016.

“Since, he had not submitted the certificate at the time of applying the post, he should not be eligible for the written test and exemption from the typing under PH category and his selection should be void ab-initio,” the FIR alleged, which has been viewed by IANS.

In the FIR, it said, investigation also revealed that one of the selected candidates Vivek Chandra had originally scored 52 marks which were subsequently changed to 61, similarly marks obtained by another selected candidates Arpit Singh were increased from 58 to 69 and marks obtained by selected candidate Arti Gupta was increased from 68 to 70 by Tiwari during the rechecking.

“Probe further highlighted that there was overwriting in the answer sheet of Arpit Singh in case of several answers and there was overwriting in the answer sheet of another selected candidate Pratibha Mishra, Utkarsh Srivatsava. These candidates were clearly favoured by Tiwari,” the FIR alleged.

“Even the other members of the board Sunil Kumar, Mohammad Alim who had evaluated the answer sheets, stated during the CBI enquiry that they were neither overwritten on the answer sheets nor altered the final scores of the selected candidates,” the FIR said.

“They stated that the said alteration or over writing was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were edited by Tiwari after the evaluation,” the FIR stated, adding that the role of Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim did not surface during the enquiry.

“During the probe it was also found that Ravi Kant Pandey is a relative of H.N. Tiwari, Pratibha Mishra is daughter of Om Prakash Mishra, Staff of COD, Cantonment Kanpur and daughter-in-law of P.P. Dwivedi, the then security officer, CQA(M), Kanpur,” it said.

It was found that another candidate Utkarsh Srivatsava is the son of Sunil Srivatsava, who retired as office superintendent of SQAE (Armament), Kanpur, the FIR alleged.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at