By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi
India's top detective agency has carried out raids on government health officials suspected of a medical equipment scam, officials say.
CBI carried out raids in four states
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted searches in four states, including the capital Delhi.
The raids are in connection with the purchase of alleged "substandard laparoscopic equipment" for use in various government hospitals.
Laparoscopes are used in birth control operations and abdominal surgery.
A CBI spokesman told the BBC that a case alleging irregularities in awarding a contract worth more than 70m rupees ($1.5m) in 2001 had been filed.
The Indian government, with its one billion plus population, runs a massive population control programme.
Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a fibre-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view organs.
Officers of the CBI raided 14 office premises and residences of government doctors and health officials in Delhi, as well as in the cities of Bangalore, Trivandrum and Goa.
The raids were still continuing, officials said.
Authorities allege that some government officials favoured a private pharmaceutical firm for the supply of 250 single puncture laparoscopes and 100 double puncture laparoscopes.
"There were several irregularities and inconsistencies in the basis of the evaluation and short-listing of the lowest responsive bidder," a CBI press release said.
It is also alleged that the firm that supplied the laparascopes had no experience in manufacturing specialised equipment of that nature, CBI officials said.
Although the laparoscopes in question were below the required standard, they were supplied to different government hospitals across the country.
Incriminating documents had also been recovered during the searches, CBI officials said.