Anand Joshi, the Under Secretary from the Ministry of Home Affairs, now in CBI custody, after he was found in possession of documents pertaining to the Home and Information and Broadcasting Ministries, had been under watch, as early as 2012. That was when he was personal staff officer to Director-General Frank Noronha, who is now Director-General of the Press Information Bureau.
It was during his stint in the DAVP from 2008 onwards, that Mr. Joshi earned the title of ring-leader of a well-oiled racket involving dubious advertising firms who got contracts and some fake newspapers who received government advertisements, a source who was in the DAVP at the time said.
“We were aware of what Mr. Joshi was up to, but as he was the section officer re-designated as the personal staff officer to Mr. Frank Noronha, we did not raise any questions, as it appeared, he enjoyed tremendous clout,” said officials who had worked in the DAVP. An email sent to Mr. Noronha received no response.
Interestingly, it was during Mr. Joshi’s tenure in the DAVP, that a firm floated by his wife, Sreejak Media Private Ltd., was contracted to monitor outdoor publicity of the UPA flagship programme, Bharat Nirman, and for keeping track of it in Gujarat during the period 2012-2013.
Last year, The Hindu reported on the dubious practices adopted by the DAVP in awarding government advertisements to newspapers that did not even exist, raising questions about whether the officials themselves had floated such newspapers. Following the report, the I&B Ministry had announced an enquiry.
An official recalled how an order was passed in 2012, by Mr. Noronha, to make all files pertaining to the DAVP accessible to Mr. Joshi. This had annoyed senior officials, with one of them even seeking a transfer.
It was towards the end of 2012 that the I&B Ministry gave a direction to Mr. Noronha to transfer Mr. Joshi. Sources said his transfer was sought to be stalled, prompting the Ministry to issue a Stand Relieved Order.