Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday called for the strictest punishment for a bureaucrat who earlier worked with him and was arrested on bribery charges on Thursday night. Gopal Krishna Madhav, the bureaucrat arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation, was earlier an officer on special duty to Sisodia, and is now a Goods and Services Tax inspector.
“I have come to know that the CBI arrested a GST inspector taking a bribe,” Sisodia tweeted. “This officer worked at my office as an OSD. The CBI must immediately give him the harshest punishment. I have myself got many such corrupt officials caught in the last five years.”
Madhav, a senior officer of the Delhi and Andaman Nicobar Island Civil Services, was arrested in a late-night operation for allegedly receiving a bribe of over Rs 2 lakh in a GST-related matter, PTI reported. He was taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning, and will reportedly be produced in court later on Friday.
The investigating agency arrested the officer after inputs from a middleman who allegedly confessed to collecting the bribes on Madhav’s behalf, officials said. During interrogation, Dheeraj Gupta said that he had collected Rs 2.26 lakh as bribe for the bureaucrat. He was later sent to judicial custody.
Madhav was posted to Sisodia’s office after the Aam Aadmi Party government came to power in 2015. The party is seeking re-election in the Assembly polls to be held on Saturday. Votes will be counted on Tuesday.
Sisodia told ANI that he had no problem with the timing of the arrest. “Whoever takes bribe should be caught immediately,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for corruption.”
BJP leader Amit Malviya dismissed Sisodia’s stance. He tweeted: “No OSD in a Deputy CM’s office can accept bribes without the knowledge of his political boss... There have been several allegations of corruption on [Chief Minister Arvind] Kejriwal and Sisodia in the past too... A party that was born out of an anti-corruption movement will die due to corruption. Irony!”
BJP MP Parvesh Verma claimed that Sisodia was involved in the alleged crime. “This is not for the first time in five years that such a complaint has been made,” Verma told ANI. “We have complained earlier too. OSD is just a title. The title’s owner is our deputy chief minister. This bribery money goes inside his pocket and is used for sending biryani to Shaheen Bagh.”
Verma was referring to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh, which Sisodia has in the past supported. The protests have carried on since December 15.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission had banned Verma from campaigning for 24 hours for calling Kejriwal a terrorist. Last week, the poll body had banned him for four days for making objectionable remarks about the Shaheen Bagh demonstrators. Verma had claimed that the protestors would enter the homes of people to “rape and kill daughters”.
Meanwhile, the CBI is also conducting searches at the office of another IAS officer, Udit Prakash Rai, in connection with the Madhav case, the Hindustan Times reported quoting an unidentified official of the agency. The CBI is conducting searches on several other GST officials as well, the newspaper reported.