Home e-Procurement Madhya Pradesh: Plea in HC demands CBI probe into ‘E-tendering scam`

Madhya Pradesh: Plea in HC demands CBI probe into ‘E-tendering scam`

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BHOPAL: A PIL has been filed in the seeking a court-monitored CBI investigation into the alleged Rs 3000 cr ” ” .

Petitioner is a practicing advocate in the high court at Jabalpur. He claims to be a social worker with active participation in Swachha Bharat Abhiyan.

The state government through chief secretary, principal secretary home, DGP, MD State Electronic development corporation (MPSEDC), director general (DG) economics offences wing (EOW) and director Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been made respondents in the petition which is slated for hearing before the bench of chief justice Vijay Kumar Shukla on Wednesday.

The petition, filed by Rao, sought the high court to direct competent authorities “to call for the entire record from the possession of the official respondents in respect of the instant scam, for its kind perusal” Also, “to direct the state government to hand over the investigation to some expert agency like CBI under court’s monitoring,”.

Rao has also highlighted replacement of IAS officer Manish Rastogi, who had apparently blown whistle against the alleged scam. “An independent investigation is very important and looking into the nature/gravity of the so called organised crime in the aforesaid matter, if the investigation tampers or no action in time is being taken, the evidence could be destroyed,” reads the petition.

Rao also mentions that he was well aware of the fact that CBI is flooded with cases in all over India, but looking into the gravity of the case an inquiry by CBI or any other expert body was necessary. Noteworthy that IAS Manish Rastogi was transferred from the post of MD, Madhya Pradesh State Electronic Development Corporation (MPSEDC), as revenue commissioner immediately after documenting his findings on the alleged scam and tabling it before the state government.

In the report, Rastogi points out that two companies – TCS and Ms Antares Systems Ltd – “did not pay due care and diligence” to protect the e-procurement system. After analysing explanations given by both companies against show cause notices, Rastogi concluded that there was confusion regarding responsibilities between the two entities.

EOW, which initiated a preliminary inquiry after receiving a complaint from chief secretary B P Singh is yet to register an FIR in this case.

The agency is investigating nine tenders, totalling Rs 3,000 crore. Three were floated by PHE department on December 26, which include two projects in Rajgarh – worth 656 crore and 282 crore – and one in Satna of 138 crore. All nine tenders were cancelled
after initial investigation revealed tampering in the e-tendering process. The controversy surfaced after one of the companies that was in the fray filed a complaint.

Rastogi also noted that the password of the servers was shared between both companies without any role discrimination. What’s more, passwords were never changed over the entire period of operation, says his report.

This exposed the system to high risk, he wrote. “After analysing the reports of TCS and Antares, it is evident that the security incident has happened and none of them has denied (it) in the report. However, none of them accepted responsibility for the incident,” says report, adding: “The point is when Antares is saying that they follow certain level of industry standards, then why they waited for MPSEDC to give them the policy password document. It is the basis requirement of any project.” Meanwhile EOW is awaiting a response from the Indian computer emergency response team (CERT) to pay a visit to MPSEDC to get a mirror image of the data seized in connection with the alleged e-tendering scam.

An alleged breach in MPSEDC’s software had led to the Rs3,000 crore scam forcing the government to revoke nine of its major tenders that were floated in 2018. EOW had confiscated 9TB data from MPSEDC in the probe into the alleged scam.

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