Couple of DRDO scientists indicted by CBI for possession of disproportionate assets

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has charged a couple of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) scientists with amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. Scientists at the Chandigarh-based DRDO’s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) laboratory – Arun K Agarwal and his wife Babita Agarwal – are said to have accumulated six properties including apartments and plots in Chandigarh and Noida, have three cars and fixed deposits which were 84.64 percent disproportionate to their income calculated by the CBI over ten years, as of 2010. It amounted to over ₹1.81 crore, the CBI said in its FIR recorded in September. Prior to 2010, they had no assets, the CBI insisted.

Arun, who is head of the works division and associate director at TBRL, “acquired assets disproportionate to his known source of income and intentionally enriched himself during the period 2010 to March 2020,” said the CBI who registered the case based on source information. His wife Babita, a technical officer at the same lab, “encouraged” the infringement “by acquiring assets in common name”.

According to the list of questionable assets, the scientific duo, among others, accumulated an apartment in Sector 121 of Noida, the value of which was declared by the two to be ₹Rs 51.5 lakh at the time of acquisition in 2010- 11. The CBI said Arun and his wife claimed to have contributed ₹25.75 lakh each towards the purchase of the flat.

Similarly, a 500 meter plot at Aerocity in Mohali was purchased in 2016 for ₹68 lakh, with Arun and Babita showing that each of them paid 50% of the total cost of the plot, CBI revealed.

Another apartment in Zirakpur near Chandigarh was also bought by them in 2019 for ₹65.7 lakh, CBI has informed. Out of the total accumulated real estate, two plots – one in Zirakpur in the name of Babita which was worth ₹10 lakh and another in Panchkula which was purchased for ₹26 lakh – were only declared to the department, alleged the CBI.

They also have fixed deposits to the tune of ₹89 lakh, of which ₹43 lakh was in Arun’s name and the remaining ₹46 lakh Babita pledged to the State Bank of India (SBI), the CBI said. Detectives are also trying to verify their accounts at other banks.

The scientists also have three cars – a Honda City Car, a Hyundai i10 and an Indigo Manza – together valued at ₹22.3 lakh. To calculate the disproportionate asset, the CBI said that Arun’s income for the decade from 2010 was ₹1.39 crore and rental income was ₹15.12 lakh, while Babita’s income for the same period was ₹60.80 lakh, bringing the combined total to ₹2.14 crore. Their expenses were ₹43.46 lakh, while their expenses for a personal visit to the United States were ₹5 lakh. The interest paid by the Agarwals for taking out loans for home, education and automobile combined was ₹11.5 lakh.

The disproportionate asset of Agarwal arrived at by the CBI was over ₹1.81 crore – after deducting savings and expenses from the total asset value.