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Top Maharashtra-Goa official nabbed taking Rs.2 crore bribe

Mumbai, Feb 25 (IANS) Chief Post Master General of Maharashtra and Goa M.S. Bali has been caught while accepting a Rs.2 crore bribe, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Thursday, describing it as the biggest such case involving a government official in 60 years.

Investigators who nabbed Bali while taking the bribe for giving a no-objection certificate (NOC) for a property deal Wednesday night also recovered Rs.34 lakhs in cash from his south Mumbai residence, over $10,000 as well as British pounds and euros.

‘This is the biggest single case of a bribe involving a senior government servant in the last 60 years,’ CBI Western Region Director Rishi Raj Singh told reporters.

Bali, who holds the rank of additional secretary to the central government, also owns two expensive cars, a bank locker in Gwalior and a huge cache of liquor.

The CBI, Singh said, was making arrangements to open the locker and check out its contents, he said.

Given the implications, the case will also be investigated by the FERA, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax and other departments, he added.

Bali had demanded the Rs.2 crore bribe in return for granting an NOC to develop a plot of land belonging to a private builder in the Mira Road suburb of Thane district, he said.

Relating the events leading to Bali’s arrest, Singh said the government wanted to construct a post office on the land.

‘The property owner offered to develop the property and also give 25 percent of it for the post office. For this, an NOC was required from the CPMG (chief post master general),’ Singh explained

Meanwhile, the Thane civic authorities were also writing to the postal authorities to expedite the proposal for the new post office. Former corporator Rita Shah was also pursuing the matter.

Shah was approached by a man called Harish Dalmiya, who ran a consultancy firm in Nariman Point and who asked her to meet him in connection with the pending NOC. When she went to meet him, she was surprised to find all the papers she had submitted to the CPMG in Dalmiya’s office.

‘Dalmiya assured her that the NOC work would be done in return for a bribe of Rs.2 crore,’ Singh said.

Shah heard him out and directly approached the CBI to lodge a complaint. The investigating agency then set a trap for Bali.

Bali told Shah to hand over the money to Dalmiya at his office, which she did. He gave her the required NOC.

Bali came to collect the money from Dalmiya and Shah Wednesday at a restaurant in Colaba only to find CBI sleuths lying in wait for him.

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