Vehicle fitness test scam: 2 businessmen arrested in Delhi

Two businessmen have been arrested for alleged corruption in fitness test of commercial vehicles.

Updated: Feb 26, 2013, 20:06 PM IST

New Delhi: Two businessmen have been arrested for alleged corruption in fitness test of commercial vehicles with the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government alleging that officials in transport department were also hand in glove with the accused and more arrests were likely.

Nitin Mahawat, director of ESP India, and Puran Chand Tamta, CEO of Tambros India Ltd, an alliance partner of ESP India, were arrested yesterday by the ACB which claimed they had "siphoned off crores of rupees.".

The duo were today produced before Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, who remanded them in police custody till March 1.

The arrests have been made in a case registered by the ACB pursuant to the complaint of RTI activist Vivek Garg alleging that the contract for lane test of commercial vehicles before grant of fitness certificates was granted by the Delhi government to ESP India without inviting any tender.

Garg had in his complaint sought registration of FIR against Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, former Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, former Transport Commissioner RK Verma and ESP India.

The ACB had, however, given a clean chit to Diskhit and Lovely saying no irregularity was found on their part.

While seeking police custody of Mahawat and Tamta, prosecution told the court that Mahawat had "grabbed the work of fitness test of commercial vehicles from the government by misleading it with the connivance of officials of the transport department and siphoned off crores of rupees."

It also said that many officials in transport department were also hand in gloves with the accused persons and more arrests are likely to be made in near future.

Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan told the court that the Supreme Court had in 1998 directed the Transport Department to introduce automated inspection and certification system, after which Automotive Research Association of India was hired for lane tests.

ARAI hired ESP USA as consultant. Mahawat was the representative of ESP USA then. In 2004, ESP USA was awarded work of installation of test lanes.

In 2006, Mahawat formed a new company named ESP India by misrepresenting the name of ESP USA and grabbed the operation and maintenance work of I&C lane test by misleading the transport department and also the cabinet.

Besides the I&C test, the accused also promised to carry out CNG leakage and Loaded lode test for Rs 1600 per vehicle but the same were never carried out, Mohan said.

The prosecution told the court that it needed the custody of the accused to recover the siphoned off money and also to make further arrests. It also said that notices have been sent to many transport officials and more arrests are likely to be made.

Nitin`s counsel, meanwhile, told the court that "he has been made a scapegoat by the big fish."

The ACB had earlier told the court that the transport department gave "undue favour" to ESP India in work of laying eight additional test lanes "as till today two additional test lanes could have been made functional while advance payment for eight lanes has already been disbursed."

Garg`s counsel today also submitted that the ACB should have registered the FIR against Dikshit and Lovely but the court was of the view that an FIR has already been registered in the matter by the probe agency, which did not find anything against the ministers.