February 23, 2015 3:12:09 am
The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Dwarka in Devbhoomi-Dwarka district and a deputy mamlatdar were arrested after they were caught allegedly taking Rs 2 lakh bribe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) late on Saturday night.
Dwarka SDM Pankaj Vyas was arrested from his office by ACB police of Devbhoomi-Dwarka at 10:45 pm on Saturday after he allegedly accepted Rs 1.20 lakh bribe from Paresh Jakharia, owner of Hotel Krishna Inn in Dwarka. The ACB also arrested deputy mamlatdar Ramesh Chavda of Dwarka after he was allegedly caught red-handed, taking Rs 20,000 bribe from the same person.
ACB said the SDM and the deputy mamlatdar demanded Rs 3 lakh from Jakharia on February 11 for reducing the amount of luxury tax that the hotel owner was actually not liable to pay.
“Jakharia used to run a guesthouse till August 2014 and the room tariff was Rs 500 only. Therefore, he was not liable to pay luxury tax. However, in September, 2014 he converted the guest house into a luxury hotel and increased the room tariffs. But the SDM claimed his hotel was liable to pay Rs 11.75 lakh luxury tax for the entire year of 2013-14 also,” Himanshu Doshi, field police inspector of Rajkot division of ACB, who trapped the two officers, said on Sunday.
ACB said after negotiations, the SDM, who is a Class-I officer and the deputy mamlatdar, a class-III officer, agreed to reduce the tax demand to Rs 1.13 lakh if Jakharia paid them Rs 2 lakh bribe. But instead of paying up, the hotel owner filed a complaint with ACB police station in Jam Khambhaliya, headquarters of Devbhoomi-Dwarka, on Friday.
“As agreed, Chavda called Jakharia on his mobile phone and asked him to come with Rs 2 lakh to the office of the SDM in Dwarka at 10 pm on Saturday. Jakharia handed over Rs 2 lakh cash to Chavda. The deputy mamlatdar kept Rs 80,000 as his share and gave remaining Rs 1.20 lakh to the SDM. But they were caught red-handed and arrested subsequently,” Doshi, who is also in-charge police inspector of ACB police station in Jam Khambhaliya, further said.
Incidentally, the ACB police station in the newly-created Devbhoomi Dwarka district was inaugurated just a week ago.
“While searching the office of the SDM, we found Rs 1.25 lakh cash. We have seized that amount also as the officer could not account for it. We also conducted searches on his residence in Ahmedabad but did not find anything incriminating,” the PI further said.
Searches were also conducted on the residence of Chavda and ACB estimated his property to be worth Rs 9 lakh. ACB officers said they would open bank locker of Chavda on Monday.
The SDM and the deputy mamlatdar have been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act. They were to be produced before a judicial magistrate late on Sunday evening.
ACB police inspector of Surendranagar, NL Desai is further investigating the case.
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