Busting a major recruitment process scam in the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested six people, including a serving colonel, for taking large sums of money from job candidates and promising them confirmed appointments to the posts of lower division clerks and Group C employees.
Raids at the suspects’ places yielded Rs 1.76 crore. CBI officials suspect the money was taken from the candidates as a bribe. The arrested persons were identified as Colonel Kulbir Singh, who is the staff officer to the Commandant of NDA, Balkrishna Charan Lal Kanojia, a resident of Uttam Nagar, Vishnu Prasad Sharma (42) of Shivne village, Dattatray Shitkal (52), Manoj Maruti Shitkal (32) of Kopre village in Khadakwasla, and Ramesh Gaikwad (32) of Khadakwasala village. Colonel Singh was arrested from the Colaba Military Station on Saturday and the others from the city. All the six accused were produced before a CBI court in the city and remanded in police custody till July 2.
Gaikwad is an employee of NDA, while Kanojia, Sharma, Dattatray Shitkal and Manoj Shitkal were said to be touts who helped Singh in the racket. “We received information that Colonel Singh and five people were indulging in some corrupt practices in which they had taken Rs three to four lakh from each candidate and promised them appointments to subordinate posts like lower division clerk, driver, cooks, gardeners, lab attendants, conservancy workers,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajpal Singh said.
The examination for the posts was conducted in February. “According to the information received by us, Colonel Singh and Kanojia had asked the candidates to only sign the blank answersheets and told them that the answersheets would be filled with correct answers and also assured them that appointment letters would subsequently be issued by the NDA authorities to them,” Rajpal Singh said.
He said the raids were conducted in the city, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Sonepat, leading to the recovery of Rs 1.76 crore. “We have also recovered incriminating documents like question papers and the list of candidates from whom the cash was collected,” Rajpal Singh said. Seeking police custody for the arrested persons in court, Rajpal Singh said the source of the bribe money was yet to be ascertained. He also informed the court that the role of senior officers in the whole racket also needed to be investigated. Defence lawyer Sudhir Shah refuted all charges levelled against Colonel Singh and the other suspects, saying there was no complaint lodged against them and there was no evidence that the cash recovered from the suspects had been taken as a bribe.
“When recruitment began, Colonel Singh was neither on the recruitment panel nor had any powers pertaining to the recruitments,” Shah said. In a press release, the NDA said it extended its full cooperation to the officials and handed over the documents related to the recruitment process. NDA officials said though they had not received complaints from anybody about any irregularity in the recruitment process, the NDA was in the process of investigating the chain of events that had led to the arrest of the officer.