Graft taint on IAS officer

Graft taint on IAS officer

CBI charges Ravi with accepting bribe

Graft taint on IAS officer

O Ravi, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, is from Davangere. DH Photo

He is alleged to have caused a loss of Rs 340 crore to the Union Territory by allowing liquor manufacturers report under-production and sell surplus to three states.

The residence of the IAS officer, O Ravi, who is joint secretary in the Disaster Management division of the Home Ministry, and is a native of Davangere, was raided by the CBI which conducted searches on 36 premises of the official and nine distillery owners in Daman, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Sources said the ministry has advised the Department of Personnel and Training to suspend Ravi. The suspension orders are likely to be issued soon.

According to the sources, one of the distillers, Babu Lal Khimani, who  “knew” Ravi well, was allegedly asked to cough up Rs 25 lakh by the joint secretary to transfer an upright Daman administrator who was tightening the noose on the violators under-reporting their liquor production.

A  complaint by an unidentified person was lodged with the CBI who laid a trap to nail Ravi and nine others. The official may be taken into CBI custody any moment now, according to sources in the agency.

Ravi is a 1983 batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre. A few months back, he led a team of Central government officials who toured the flood-affected regions of North Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to assess the damage caused by the deluge.

Ex-colleagues shocked

Expressing surprise at Ravi’s alleged “proclivity” to liquor manufacturers and the charge that he may have sought and taken a bribe, senior Home Ministry officials said they “cannot believe he could be corrupt”.

One retired Home Ministry bureaucrat, who belonged to the Karnataka cadre before retiring a couple of months ago, told Deccan Herald he was “shocked to learn about Ravi’s case”.

“He had previously worked under me, but it is difficult to come to terms with the information that a corrupt official could have been posted in the sensitive Home Ministry,” one retired IAS officer said.

 The CBI registered a case on Tuesday against Ravi, two Excise inspectors and one sub-inspector at Daman for their connivance with liquor manufacturers based in the Union Territory, charging them with causing a loss of Rs 340 crore to the Daman Administration. The six distilleries have been identified as Khemani, Royal, Jupiter, Krimpy, Silver Star and Dharmesh.

The CBI alleged that in order to evade excise duty and VAT, the distillers, in connivance with the Excise officials, resorted to under-reporting of production by preparing fake documents.

 The distillers also resorted to unauthorised sale of under-reported liquor to neighbouring Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra in order to evade Excise duties. “The accused persons caused financial loss — Rs 300 crore by way of Excise tax evasion and Rs 40 crore of VAT evasion,” a CBI statement said.

One of the distillers was in regular touch with the joint secretary “to utilise his services” regarding the transfer of the Daman Administrator so as to evade the recovery of Excise duty.

It is also alleged that in lieu of providing such services, Ravi accepted Rs 25 lakh as illegal gratification and promised one of the distillers that he would get the present Administrator transferred out of Daman.

 Ravi  has served at the Centre for over nine years in various departments, including the ministries of Railways, Civil Aviation, Commerce and Industries and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

He has also served in the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation for a brief period. He was at the Home Ministry since 2007.