CBI yet to start probe in the MEA gift case

New Delhi: The CBI is yet to start probe in the case wherein gifts bought by the External Affairs Ministry to be given to foreign dignitaries were allegedly purchased at inflated costs by circumventing rules.

Though the External Affairs Ministry has requested the CBI to take over probe in the case, sources in the agency said it is yet to initiate an inquiry in the case.

The Ministry had sent the request for the CBI probe as it found in its preliminary investigations that the gifts to be given by Minister SM Krishna to the foreign dignitaries were purchased at inflated costs and were of inferior quality.

The Ministry had laid down rules that such gifts could only be purchased from state-emporiums to promote indigenous artforms of various states. However, Assam and Madhya Pradesh Emporium had informed the Ministry that they have signed memorandum of understanding with some private players for the supply of artifacts, MEA said in an RTI response.

In its RTI response to activist Subhash Agrawal, the Ministry said "the preliminary investigation conducted by the Ministry could not establish prima facie any clear involvement or complicity of the concerned officials of this Ministry. CBI has, therefore, been requested to undertake a detailed investigation into the matter.

"Action against those found guilty is contemplated only after the completion of the CBI inquiry."

The Ministry said in its response that it has been revealed during its preliminary investigations that gifts were purchased at much more price than their actual costs.

The scam came to light after reports that several gifts, which were purchased for foreign dignitaries during Krishna's visit to Malaysia and Myanmar, were of inferior quality and at a higher price.