CBI cracks down on newspapers which existed only for government advertisements

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The CBI has booked unnamed government officials and three individuals for empanelling their newspapers for government advertisement on the basis of forged documents, officials said Monday. The case arises from a surprise check the CBI had carried out at the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), now known as Bureau of Outreach and Communication (), nearly two years back.

In one of the cases, it was found that six newspapers — two editions each of the Arjun Times, the Health of Bharat and the Delhi Health — were empanelled with the DAVP for getting government advertisement.

During the internal probe of the agency, it was found that no such newspaper was being published from the address of the printing press mentioned in the newspaper nor the chartered account had issued any certificate.

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The documents submitted for securing government advertisements were forged, the CBI has said in its FIR, uploaded on its website on Sunday.

The case has been registered against unidentified officials of the BOC along with Harish Lamba, Aarti Lamba and Ashwani Kumar, for allegedly getting the newspapers empanelled for government advertisements on the basis of false and fabricated documents.

The CBI has alleged that these newspapers fraudulently and dishonestly got empanelled with the DAVP and received advertisements of Rs 62.24 lakh from 2016 to 2019.

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“This amount may be more if calculated from the starting of the empanelment of the newspapers,” an official said, adding, similar irregularities were found in connection with the other newspapers as well.

During the investigation into the case, the CBI went to the printing press located at Jhandewalan and met its proprietor Darshan Singh Negi who informed them that no such newspapers were published from his place.

During the enquiry, the agency found that in its papers submitted in 2017 for the Arjun Times, Ashwani Kumar was shown as the publisher. Harish Lamba is the owner or proprietor of the newspaper.

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The CBI has alleged that Negi denied ever meeting Lamba or Kumar and also said the newspaper was never printed from his press.

It has alleged that the contract between the publisher and the printer and the form of declaration submitted with the application, purportedly issued by Negi, were forged as those were never issued by him.

The enquiry further revealed that the chartered accountant certificate was also forged purportedly showing the number of copies printed per publishing day as 25,800. However, no copy of the newspaper was ever printed from Dolphin Pictography.

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The newspapers had claimed that it published 1.5 lakh copies consisting of eight pages per day, the CBI said, adding, however, that during its probe it was found that the combined strength of these publications was not more than 100 to 150 copies.

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