Spycam helps CBI net CGST official on graft charge

A spycam helped the CBI catch a Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) official in the act of allegedly demanding bribe from a taxi operator for settling tax dues and penalty.

Complainant Subhash Chand Dadhwal, a resident of Chandigarh, lodged a complaint with the agency alleging that CGST superintendent Vijay Sehra had demanded ₹50,000, apart from the outstanding amount, to close the matter.

Mr. Dadhwal had been into taxi business since 2000. In 2004, he got the service tax number from the Central Excise and Customs, Chandigarh. As his income was below ₹10 lakh per annum, service tax was not applicable to him. In 2013, he surrendered his service tax number. However, his income-tax returns were being filed regularly.

On October 9, 2020, Mr. Dadhwal received summons from Mr. Sehra by post, with the direction to appear with the necessary papers. The complainant met the official two days before the summons date. After examining the documents, Mr. Sehra initially calculated the tax penalty and interest as ₹25,000, which was reduced to ₹17,000 on Mr. Dadhwal’s request, as alleged.

Mr. Dadhwal then went to his chartered accountant to deposit the amount through chalan. However, as he had already surrendered his service tax number, it could not be done. He apprised Mr. Sehra of the situation and met him at his office. As instructed, he gave ₹20,000 to the official to pay for the dues. However, it is alleged that the official also demanded ₹50,000 in bribe.

The CBI initially thought of verifying the complaint telephonically. However, as it turned out, the official was “very clever” and would disconnect the call the moment Mr. Dadhwal talked about the bribe money over phone. The agency then decided to send an independent witness along with him to the suspect’s office, but the plan was also dropped as the complainant pointed out the official might get suspicious and not speak about the bribe in the presence of a stranger.

Finally, the CBI officials decided to put a spycam and a digital voice recorder on the person of the complainant, which did the work. During the recorded conversation, the suspect allegedly reduced the bribe amount to ₹45,000, corroborating the complaint. Accordingly, the agency registered a case and arrested the accused.


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