Five months on, CBI waits for Ministry's nod to press charges

The agency can't do anything as it is mandatory to seek the Health Secretary's permission to initiate investigations against any official of and above the rank of Joint Secretary

The Central Bureau of Investigation is waiting for the approval of Union Health Ministry for almost five months to lodge an FIR against former officials of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Delhi. The Institute authorities have been accused of financial irregularities between 2005 and 2008.

Dilly-dallying: CBI has allegations against former officials of the
Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences, in New Delhi, since
2005. Pic/mid day

In a letter dated April 25, 2011, to Union Health Secretary K Chandramouli, CBI Joint Director HC Awasthy stated, "Verification of allegations mentioned in a complaint revealed that huge loss has been caused to the Institute in the installation of MRI facilities, conferencing facilities with audio and visual equipment, on highly exorbitant rates in blatant disregard of rules and directives."

As it is mandatory to seek the Health Secretary's permission to initiate investigations against any official of and above the rank of Joint Secretary, the CBI joint director wrote a letter to Chandramouli. Awasthy claimed there was "prima facie material for registration of a case under Section 13(2) and 13(1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against the officials of IHBAS".

The CBI has also sought permission to press charges against Dr Meena Gupta, former IHBAS director and present Head of Department of Neurology at G B Pant Hospital. In addition to her, Dr Sangeeta Sharma, present Secretary of the Medical Council of India (MCI), Alok Verma, the then superintending engineer, Vishwa Mohan Kumar and a senior accounts official are under the scanner.

In response to the CBI letter, Director, National Rural Health Mission, Ravindra Pattar, has sought records from the Delhi Health Ministry in consultation with IHBAS. "The records relating to the instances are available with IHBAS, and as the government of Delhi provides grants in aid to IHBAS, for running the institute, a copy of self-contained note sent by CBI is being forwarded with a request to get the self-contained note examined in consultation with IHBAS and furnish specific comments with regard to the allegations related to the loss to government exchequer," Pattar stated in a letter on May 27.

The CBI "self-contained" note that was passed from the Union Health Secretary to the Delhi Health Secretary states, "It is alleged that Dr Meena Gupta, Dr Sangeeta Sharma, who was the then purchase officer at IHBAS, and a senior accounts officer entered into a criminal conspiracy with the private partner during 2003-2005 with the object of causing undue pecuniary advantage to the said company."

Though the Delhi government has sent its reply to the Union Health Ministry, the latter health hasn't replied to the CBI till date. Sangita Sharma said she played no role in the whole scam. "The decision was taken after the approval of the then principal secretary, Health, and Health minister. I was just a consultant professor and purchase officer," she said.

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