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Trouble on the Home front: CBI to grill MHA official for corruption

Catch Team | Updated on: 12 May 2016, 9:25 IST

The official

  • Anand Joshi is an Under Secretary in the coordination wing of the Home Ministry
  • He is accused of taking bribes to help NGOs/societies, while he was dealing with FCRA violations

The defence

  • Joshi claims he is honest, and that he\'s being framed
  • He says it was his senior BK Prasad who was pressurising him to \'help\', but he refused

More in the story

  • What the CBI has recovered from Joshi so far
  • How is this case linked to Teesta Setalvad and the Ford Foundation?

A Home Ministry official is under the CBI scanner on corruption charges, allegedly linked to Teesta Setalvad's Sabrang Trust and the US-based Ford Foundation.

Anand Joshi, an Under Secretary in the coordination wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been summoned by the CBI to its headquarters on Wednesday, 11 May.

The apex investigating agency also opened Joshi's locker at the ICICI Bank's Indirapuram branch in Ghaziabad on Tuesday morning. He was taken to the bank by CBI sleuths, a source said. The CBI has refused to divulge the details of recoveries from his locker.

On Monday, the agency had claimed it recovered an amount of Rs 7 lakh from him, and it also found some incriminating documents related to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The CBI had searched four places, including his office and residential premises.

The charges

Joshi is being investigated on charges of bribery during an earlier stint, when he was dealing with cases of FCRA violations. He was booked under section 120 B of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act on 5 May.

"It was alleged that the public servant, while working as Under Secretary in the MHA, had been indulging in corrupt activities and arbitrarily issuing notices to a large number of NGOs/Societies registered under FCRA, who had been receiving significant amount of foreign contribution," CBI said in a statement.

"The said officer had allegedly demanded and obtained illegal gratification from some of these organisations, which were laundered through various immovable assets as well as certain private companies."

Complaints against Joshi first surfaced in January this year. Reports suggest that Joshi came under the arc of suspicion when top officials of the MHA found that files related to the Sabrang Trust were missing.

The officials apparently discovered that the files had gone missing only in March, when the deadline expired. It is then that the ministry identified the officer and questioned him on the missing files. The files were later restored.

The organisations in question

The Ford Foundation was put on the Home Ministry's 'prior permission' list last year, based on a report from the Gujarat government, citing national security concerns.

The report stated that the organisation was funding 'anti-India activities' of the Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust, both NGOs run by activist Setalvad.

The action against Ford Foundation was not taken too kindly by the US government, and in March, the ministry removed it from the 'prior permission' list.

Meanwhile, Sabrang Trust's FCRA licence was suspended in September 2015, and the NGO was asked for an explanation within 180 days. An explanation was provided to the ministry by the Trust in October.

Joshi's claims

Joshi claims he is honest, and that he is being framed. "All files were found in the Home Ministry itself. It can be verified after checking the CCTV cameras. It is a conspiracy against me. I have given adverse opinion against many NGOs including Greenpeace, Ford Foundation and two NGOs of Teesta Setalvad," Joshi told a wire service.

He claims to have been pressurised by a superior officer to give a clean chit to some NGOs. He says BK Prasad, an Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry, threatened him, and orally told him to give favourable comments on the Ford Foundation, which he refused.

He reportedly claims that soon after, he was transferred out of the foreigners' division, which deals with FCRA-related cases.

An officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, Prasad, who is due to retire on 30 May, has rubbished the allegations. "The case is with the CBI and it's the most competent organisation. I am sure the truth will come out. Whatever Joshi is talking is rubbish," Prasad told a wire service.

More aspersions on MHA

Interestingly, last month, senior lawyer Indira Jaising, who, along with advocate Anand Grover, runs the Lawyers Collective, had alleged that the Home Ministry was engaging in selective leaks.

Responding to reports that the MHA had issued a show cause notice to the Lawyers Collective, Jaising had said: "Contrary to provisions under the FCRA that require information from audit/inspection to be kept confidential, certain officers at the MHA are going out of their way to leak observations of the inspection team, in order to create prejudice and hostility against the LC, even before the legal procedure for inquiry has concluded."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

First published: 12 May 2016, 9:25 IST