Searches In Mumbai, Nagpur Over Corruption In 2 Passport Seva Kendra Centres

The CBI conducted a search operation on Saturday covering 33 locations in Maharashtra after registering multiple FIRs against 14 officials of two Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) centres in Mumbai for large-scale “collusive corruption”, officials said.

The agency has unearthed a corruption racket involving middlemen and officials of the centres in Lower Parel and Malad, they said. The CBI has also booked 18 agents and middlemen in its 12 FIRs.

“These officers were in regular contact with passport facilitation agents and conspired with them to obtain undue advantage in lieu of issuance of passports based on inadequate or incomplete documents or by manipulating the personal particulars of passport applicants,” an agency official said.

The alleged corruption was detected during a joint surprise check with the vigilance department of the external affairs ministry at the PSKs on June 26, the officials said.

An analysis of mobile phones, social media chats and UPI payments showed some suspicious transactions worth several lakhs, they said.

The accused PSK officials are in the ranks of junior and senior passport assistants and were allegedly acting in connivance with various passport facilitation agents and touts, and received illegal gratification in their own or their family members’ bank accounts, agency officials said.

After getting clearance from the ministry of external affairs, the CBI registered 12 FIRs against the officials and the middlemen.

On Saturday, a massive search operation was launched across Mumbai and Nashik in connection with the cases in which digital devices, documents and other incriminating material were seized, the officials added.

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