SRINAGAR — The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday said it caught a Range Officer in Khulhama forest Division of Bandipora district red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 for processing the bill of the complainant.
A spokesman in a statement issued to the news agency KNO said that ACB received a written complaint against Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi, Range Officer, Khulhama, Bandipora from a complainant, alleging therein that the concerned officer is demanding a bribe as a commission of Rs 10,000 for processing his bill for release of due payments.
“The complainant further alleged that he is a contractor and had completed the allotted work for an amount of Rs 3,21,000 and that after completing the said work, the Forest Department has already released two bills in his favour,” the statement said.
However, the final bill to the tune of about Rs one lac has been pending with the said department for last one-and-a-half month for which concerned Range Officer Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi put a demand of bribe as his commission of Rs 15,000 for all three bills including already two released bills, the statement said.
“The said amount after negotiations with the accused Range Officer, was settled on Rs. 10,000. The complainant arranged Rs 10,000 and approached ACB with a complaint requesting for legal action,” it said.
“On receipt of a complaint which prima facie disclosed the commission of an offence punishable u/s 7 of the PC Act 1988 (as amended in 2018), accordingly case FIR No. 13/2023 was registered at PS ACB Baramulla and an investigation was taken up,” the spokesman said.
During the course of the investigation, a trap team was constituted and headed by DySP rank officer. The team laid a successful trap and caught the accused public servant namely Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi son of Late Assadullah Sofi, resident of Onagam, Bandipora posted as Range Officer, Khulhama forest range, Bandipora while demanding and accepting the bribe money of Rs 10,000. The bribe amount was recovered from the possession of the accused in the presence of independent witnesses, the statement said.
“The accused was immediately taken into custody after following due process as laid down under law and searches at his residence were conducted,” the spokesman said, adding that further investigation of the case is going on.