The biggest newspaper in India has been fined $1.5 million by the state government for accepting bribes from two government contractors.
The state government said the newspapers’ conduct was “criminal and corrupt.”
The Maharashtra Government Employees Union said the ruling was a “complete vindication of the workers of the state and of the people of Maharashtra.”
The newspaper was fined for accepting money from contractors in the past, including for the construction of a highway between the state capital and Mumbai.
The newspaper is a unit of the Maharashtra government, which has about 200,000 employees.
It’s owned by the Aditya Birla Group, which was fined $2.5 billion last year for paying bribes to the government in exchange for construction contracts.
State authorities said the paper accepted bribes from the contractor and received a payment of about $4,000 from the government for the contract.
The payment was for the purchase of a commercial truck, but it was not known whether it was the same truck that was being used in the bribe payments.
The Maharashtra government said it is reviewing the case.
“The company was required to pay back the money to the company after the transaction was concluded,” the ministry said in a statement.
In a separate case, the government of Gujarat suspended the work of an investigative agency led by an independent journalist for allegedly trying to “harass” and intimidate him.
The news portal News21 was the subject of a criminal complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which accused the newspaper of breaching the Digital India Act by publishing false information.
The Indian Media Regulatory Authority said News21 violated a section of the Digital Indian Act, which prohibits “false, defamatory, and disparaging information.”
News21’s publisher said the company is “shocked” by the government’s decision.