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CBI books official, beneficiaries in defence recruitment scam




Two years after taking over the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR in the Kanpur defence recruitment scam, officials said on Monday.

The case has been 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 Ravi Kant Pandey, Utkarsh 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 Arpit 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.


Centre clarifies on 3rd wave possibility after Omicron detection




Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa. India has also reported two cases of Omicron Covid variant and is likely to spread to more countries.

“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” said the Health Ministry on Friday. It added further that the scale and magnitude of rise in cases and most importantly the severity of disease that will be caused is still not clear.

On the question of existing vaccine efficacy against this variant, the health ministry has said that there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved.

“Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease, and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated,” it added.

The response measures for all variants of concern, including Omicron, is the same as that for SARs CoV2. The ministry has said that the precautions and steps to be taken remain the same as before. “It is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation to the maximum possible”, said the ministry in a statement.

The government is monitoring the situation closely and is issuing suitable guidelines, said the ministry, adding that the scientific and medical community is geared up for developing and deploying diagnostics, carrying out genomic surveillance, generating evidence about viral and epidemiologic characteristics, and development of therapeutics.

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Trouble looms for Balakrishnan as Mumbai HC to hear son’s DNA case





The Mumbai High Court has posted for January 4 the case of a DNA test result of Binoy Kodiyeri, the elder son of CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who was all set to return as Kerala CPI-M state secretary.

A woman from Bihar has alleged that Binoy had a relationship with her while she was working at a dance bar in Dubai in 2008 and till 2015, he used to send her money every month. They also have an eight-year-old child.

The woman had first filed a petition in 2019 and in July 2019 Binoy approached the Mumbai High Court seeking dismissal of the rape case filed by the woman. The court asked all the three to go for a DNA test and Binoy appeared for it on July 30, 2019.

Following which the case went into a limbo. In December 2020 the DNA result was filed before the court in a sealed cover and on Thursday the woman approached the court wanting to know the result. The court has now posted this case for January 4.

Incidentally Balakrishnan who is a cancer patient, was given medical leave by the party soon after his younger son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested in October 2020 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

However Balakrishnan breathed easy when Bineesh got bail from the Karnataka High Court after being in a jail in Bengaluru in October this year. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan strongly backed Balakrishnan to return to the post and the green signal was to have come from the state secretariat on Friday, when came the news about Binoy.

The news about Binoy has come at a time when the CPI-M, ahead of the party state conference scheduled for early next year, wanted Balakrishnan to take over. Sources in the know of things say Balakrishnan will be asked to take over after the national leadership of the party last month asked the state leadership to take a call on it.

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Five dead, one injured in road accident in Gurugram




 Five people were killed after a car crashed into a roadside wall and overturned on Sadhrana road near Gadhi village here on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

According to police, the deceased have been identified as Sagar, Jibech, Niaz Khan, Prince and Jagbir.

One person, identified as Hardik Tiwari, was injured in the incident.

The victims were returning to Gurugram city from Sadhrana village after attending a marriage.

“All of them were coming from a wedding ceremony in Sadhrana village. The mishap was a result of speeding and a damaged road. All the victims used to work in a city-based private hospital. Police are taking necessary action,” Gurugram police spokesperson Subhash Boken said.

“The injured man has been shifted to a hospital in critical condition. While the bodies have been sent for post-mortem. Further probe is on,” he added.

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