Preliminary investigations into the probe of the railway bribery scandal are leading to the office of the railway minister, but the probe agency would wait till it gets concrete evidence in this regard, the Central Bureau of Investigation sources said on Wednesday.
The sources clarified that direct evidence of involvement of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has not surfaced so far, but at least four officials posted in his office would be questioned very soon. They, however, said Bansal's clarification would be sought in connection with the alleged bribery case.
The CBI is still analysing over 1,000 tapped phone conversations intercepted by it during the period of over two months as part of its surveillance on now suspended railway board member (staff) Mahesh Kumar and Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla, they said.
Clues about the role of the officials have surfaced in the analysis of these tapped conversations which show the alleged proximity of Singla to these officials posted in the railway minister's office, they said.
The complicity of the officials in the Rs 10 crore bribery scandal will be decided after sustained interrogation of the arrested accused which include Singla and Kumar, the sources claimed.
Kumar, Singla and some other accused were giving conflicting replies and evasive in responses during their questioning, they said.
The probe agency might explore options such as polygraph tests to bring out truth from them, they said. Meanwhile, at least two associates of Singla and Kumar have come in handy for the probe agency in its investigation into the bribery scandal where Rs 90 lakh was allegedly paid by Kumar to Singla through middlemen.
The sources said the money was allegedly a part payment of the Rs 10 crore promised for lateral shifting of Kumar from member (staff) to member (electrical), which is considered a coveted position in the railway board. (
The part payment was allegedly made to Singla on May 3, two days after appointment of Kumar as member (staff) of railway board to ensure that till lateral shifting is carried out, he could retain the additional charge of the general manager (west).
Bansal has denied involvement in the alleged scam. The minister has claimed that although he has family relations with Singla, he did not have any business links.
The sources claimed that the CBI would seek from Kumar's Mumbai office details of all the contracts and benefits which were extended to businessman Narayan Rao Manjunath's company G G Tronics during the tenure of the railway official. They said it was Manjunath who allegedly arranged Rs 90 lakh bribe to be paid to Singla through middleman Sandeep Goyal on behalf of Kumar.
At the moment, the probe agency is focusing to prove that Rs 90 lakh, seized by it when Singla was apprehended, was actually the bribe amount. In the meanwhile, the CBI has collected documents related to appointment of Mahesh Kumar in the railway board and is also planning to question members of the board on the meetings where induction of new members could have been discussed.
The sources said the officials connected with the railway ministry's personnel and vigilance department would also be asked to give their statements in this regard.
In this regard, the agency is banking on phone intercepts, which show Singla was in regular touch with the officials of the railway ministry who worked closely with the Minister. They said the CBI is planning to confront each of the arrested accused including Singla with Kumar, besides arrested middlemen and businessmen. The CBI has arrested eight persons in connection with the alleged bribery scandal.