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Irregularities in exchange of demonetised notes: CBI arrests two postal officials in Gujarat

The CBI on Monday arrested a director and a senior superintendent of postal services for alleged irregularities in exchanging notes during the demonetisation drive.  They were produced before a special CBI court that sent them to a two-day CBI custody.
The CBI said Manoj Kumar, posted as director, headquarters, Khanpur, and his subordinate Sanjay Akhade were arrested following an FIR on March 7, based on a complaint by the vigilance department of the postal services. According to the vigilance complaint, the CBI said, over Rs 70 lakh was allegedly exchanged by the accused illegally at Navrangpura branch of the postal department. The CBI suspected the value of unauthorised exchange of notes might run into crores.
The CBI had registered the FIR against V K Darji, senior post master, R C Vaghela, deputy post master, posted at Navrangpura branch, and M A Sabuwala, assistant post master, treasury branch. During the investigation, the alleged role of these two was revealed.
The FIR stated that internal inquiries held between November 26 to November 29 last year revealed large scale discrepancies in the books maintaining data of the exchanged bank notes at Navrangpura branch. It sated that the senior post master at this branch reported wrong information to the higher authority.
According to the CBI, the internal inquiries revealed that the senior post master of Navrangpura reported in December that 887 forms dated November 14 were “traced out from treasury branch, which was lying in polythene bag together with other empty bags and old records”. The FIR stated, “It seems gross negligence of the concerned dealing assistants in their duties.” These forms (for exchanging Rs 4,500 per person) were filled by people who exchanged old notes during the drive that started on November 8 last year.
The internal inquiries blamed Darji, Vaghela and Sabuwala responsible for negligence and revealed “prima facie serious irregularities in an organised and suspicious manner by the culprits with a motive to make money in connivance with some elements by misuse of official position as government servant.”
Following the FIR, the CBI investigation found involvement of the arrested accused Manoj Kumar and his subordinate Akhade. A CBI press release stated that “searches were conducted at nine premises in and around Ahmedabad which led to recovery of incriminating documents. Cash of Rs 1 lakh(approx) from residence and Rs.1.66 lakh (approx) from office in new currency was recovered from the premises of Director (Kumar), Postal Services.”
In the court, Kumar’s lawyer R G Ahuja contested that “the money recovered is accounted and nothing incriminating has been found. There is no direct evidence indicating his involvement in the case and besides, he was not posted at Navrangpura office. The CBI has merely arrested him on the basis of statements of co-accused.” However, the CBI argued that the accused are not cooperating and have been giving evasive replies.