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Nine Rajya Sabha MPs involved in inflated travel bills scam: Sources

Aug 27, 2013 06:12 PM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: The Indian bureaucracy may be bracing itself for another massive scam and this time it is centred on Leave Travel Concession. It was first reported by Times of India, but CNN-IBN has now got specific details on how the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has found gross irregularities in the way fake tickets were generated to show claims.

According to sources, nine Rajya Sabha MPs are allegedly involved in inflated travel bills scam. CVC investigation has found that the Rajya Sabha MPs have claimed fake reimbursements for business flights which were not taken. The probe reveals how the MPs claimed flying business class in all-economy flights and also submitted business class boarding passes for flights that were never taken.

Sources also said that JD(U) leader Anil Sahni is allegedly the biggest offender in the scam. However, denying any involvement in the scam, Sahni said, "I don't know anything about it. I went for a tour to Koltaka. I got my ticket done through an agent. I will look into it and let you know."

Now the CVC has ordered an investigation into the claims. Rajya Sabha has sent letters to Air India and Jet Airways seeking information about inflated bills. So far only Air India has replied to Rajya Sabha's queries, sources added.

The CVC has found enough reasons to recommend a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

During the investigation several fictitious ticket numbers not matching serial numbers used in Air India were found. Sources say Sahni reportedly generated 8 tickets worth Rs 1,50,000 each. It also came to light that Sahni used the boarding card which was used by two other passengers. The seat allotted to him was 15C - an economy class ticket - but on paper it showed up as a business class ticket - thereby hiking the fares.

It all began when the police arrested a person in possession of over 600 blank boarding cards at the Kolkata airport. This was attributed to the CVC finding that Rajya Sabha Secretariat employees in connivance with travel agents were misusing LTC privileges.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat shortlisted seven suspected cases and forwarded them to the vigilance department, which when further verified with Air India found shocking lapses.

On paper business class seats were allocated in the 12th, 15th and 18th rows but the flight only had business class seats till row 7. Official Air India fares were Rs 1,21,670 but they have been inflated on paper to Rs 1,35,610 for claim purposes.

Moreover, names of passengers on boarding cards do not feature in flight manifests.

Fearing more cases, the CVC has advised CVOs of PSUs and banks to be alert. The apprehension is, the scam may not be limited to the Rajya Sabha secretariat or the 9 MPs under a scanner - a CBI probe may just open a bigger can of worms.