Thursday, July 18, 2024

Maharashtra: CBI cracks down on dubious passports scam; books 32


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Mumbai, June 29: In a major cleansing operation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has swooped on 33 locations in Maharashtra and booked 32 people for issuing dubious passports in return for huge bribes, an official said here on Saturday.

Following complaints, the CBI lodged 12 cases in Mumbai and Nashik against 14 passport department officers at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSKs) in Malad and Lower Parel, besides Nashik, and raided various locations on Wednesday.

Among those booked include 14 Passport Assistants, Senior Passports Assistants at the PSKs, and the rest 18 are outside facilitators/agents/touts, all of them jointly indulging in corruption activities, besides raiding 33 locations in the two cities, under the jurisdiction of the Regional Passport Office of Mumbai.

The accused were in regular contact with each other and conspired with them to allegedly issue dubious passports with inadequate/incomplete documentation or manipulation of the personal details of the passport applicants.

The CBI team carried out the raids along with the Vigilance Officers of the Passport Seva Programme Division of the MEA and the RPO, Mumbai officers. During the swoops, the joint surprise check teams analysed the offices, desks, mobiles and other belongings of the suspected officers which revealed a lot of incriminating stuff.

The analysis of the documents, social media chats and UPI identity activities threw up various suspicious transactions by some of the officers, indicating demands and acceptance of bribes through the facilitators/agents/touts for issuing passports based on insufficient, fake or forged documentation.

The CBI found that the PSK officers in connivance with the outside facilitators were allegedly receiving huge sums of money, running into lakhs of rupees, directly in their own bank accounts or in the bank accounts of their close families or relatives from the agents. The CBI raids also led to the recovery of several incriminating documents, digital evidence, passport papers and other material, and further investigations are underway.



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