New Delhi: The Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Saturday arrested four persons, including a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and a pilot, in connection with the fake pilots scam.
Reports said the arrested official, Pradeep Kumar -- who worked as an additional director with the DGCA -- was involved in forging exam marksheets, other documents and tampering with the flying hours to appoint ineligible pilots.
Among the other three arrested include a pilot identified as Pradeep Tyagi and two touts, who were helping Kumar. One of the touts has been identified as Lalit Jain.
Secret official communications indicate that fake marksheets were produced for Commercial Pilot License (CPL) examinations. In return, Kumar used to get huge sums of money. This is for the first time that a top DGCA official has officially come under the scanner for issuing of fake pilot licences.
With the fresh arrests, a total number of 10 people have been taken into custody in connection with the racket.
Acting tough against pilots obtaining their commercial licences by submitting fake records and documents, DGCA had recently grounded 14 pilots.
The Crime Branch is believed to be on the lookout for nine more suspects.
The Delhi Police claims to have pieced together incriminating evidence against Kumar. The Crime Branch has recovered computer hard discs, printing machine, scanner etc from Kumar’s office.
Meanwhile, reports said more arrests could be made later in the day from Mumbai, in connection with the scam.
A person is eligible to fly a commercial aircraft only when he or she secures a CPL, which is given out after a person completes 200 hours of flying during the training.
However, the 14 pilots whose licenses have been revoked had allegedly not flown the mandatory hours and are alleged to have got fake certificates from a Rajasthan flying training institute.
DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan had recently said that that the CPLs of around 10,000 pilots was under the scanner, besides about 4,000 holders of Airlines Pilots Training License (ATPLs).
He had also said that DGCA would conduct third-party audit of all the 40 flying schools in the country in the wake of cases of forgery behind securing of licences coming to light.
The government has vowed not to show any leniency in the case, describing as serious the issue of some pilots getting licenses on the basis of forged marksheets or through illegal means with the help of flying schools.
"There are about 40 flying schools. Now there is an audit of these schools... Blanket order has been given to go ahead into the complaints. There is no leniency to anybody," Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said.
"This is a big fraud playing with human lives. There will be no leniency to anybody. We will go very strongly by abiding with the laws. Every angle would be looked into. The issue is very serious," he had said.
The minister said the DGCA had discussed the issue with him "more than once" and steps are being taken to address the issue.
Bhushan said essentially there are two types of frauds in regard to fake pilot licenses.
One type of fraud related to not passing the CPL exam and producing false marksheet to procure the flying license while the other related to flying schools crediting flying hours in certificates which has actually not been undertaken by the persons concerned, he said.
(With PTI inputs)