SBI fraud: 8 bank officials including Ashwin Mehta acquitted

A Mumbai court has acquitted nine people, including Ashwin Mehta, brother of 1992 securities scam kingpin Harshad Mehta, in a case of duping the State Bank of India (SBI) to the tune of Rs 105 crore.

Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, who presides over the special court set up for cases related to the 1992 securities scam, said in her judgement last week that there was no hesitation in holding that that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Ashwin Mehta was a constituted attorney of Harshad Mehta and also one of the stock brokers in his brother’s firms.

Apart from Ashwin Mehta, those acquitted are Rama Sitharaman, officer in-charge of securities division of the SBI, and seven other officials — Bhushan Raut, C Ravi Kumar, S Suresh Babu, P Muralidharan, Ashok Agarwal, Janardhan Bandhopadhyay and Shyam Sundar Gupta.

According to the prosecution, the bank’s officials in collusion with the Mehta brothers entered into a conspiracy to cheat SBI Caps, the investment banking branch of the country’s largest lender, to the tune of Rs 105 crore in the sale and purchase transactions of securities from 1991 to 1992.

SBI Caps routed all 24 transactions via Harshad Mehta and allegedly suffered a loss, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the prosecuting agency in the case.

The case against prime accused Harshad Mehta was ‘abated’ after he died in 2001.

The CBI claimed the fund diversion could not have taken place without the knowledge of the accused bank officers.

The court, however, accepted the defence arguments that the funds were diverted from the main branch of the bank and hence, the case against the accused officers, who were in the securities division, could not be accepted.

“In light of the various gaps and missing links left open by the prosecution, may be on account of death of Harshad Mehta and the discharge of many accused in the case from time to time, the fact remains that the charge of conspiracy could not be proved,” the court said.

The court also noted that there was a major lacuna in the sanction given to prosecute the officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

4 years jail to IT official in Rs 2 lakh bribe case

Mumbai: A special court here today convicted an Income Tax official for demanding a bribe of Rs 2 lakh from a tax assessee in 2011 and sentenced him to four years rigorous imprisonment.

Daya Shankar, then Income Tax Commissioner (Appeal), was found guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act by special judge M G Deshpande. He was sentenced to four years in jail and also fined Rs 25,000, special public prosecutor Kavita Patil said.
According to the prosecution, the complainant, Haresh Bhawnani, had filed an appeal with Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeal) against an assessment order for additional tax liability of Rs 1,41,41,546 for the year 2008-09.

The case was presented to Shankar who demanded a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from the complainant to reduce the latter’s tax liability to Rs 2.5 lakh.
The bribe amount was later reduced to Rs 2 lakh.
Bhawnani approached the Anti-Corruption Unit of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 23, 2011 which laid a trap and caught Shankar red-handed.

 

No bribe charge made out against sacked cop: Court

No bribe charge made out against sacked cop: Court
No bribe charge made out against sacked cop: Court

A special court today declined to take up a case against a sacked policeman, accused of hitting a woman with a brick in 2015 after she refused to bribe him, saying no offence of demanding illegal gratification was made out against him.

Special Judge Hemani Malhotra said the evidence prima facie showed that no offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act was made against the former head constable, Satish Chand, and declined to take up the case, saying the other charges against him in the charge sheet were triable by a magisterial court.

“The material on record, therefore, prima facie reflects that no demand of illegal gratification was made by the accused and consequently no offence under Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act is made out against accused Satish Chand.

“This court being a special court to try offences under PC Act, has no jurisdiction to try this case,” the judge said.

Chand was arrested and later released on bail after a criminal case was filed against him when a video clip of his allegedly attacking a woman with two children at the Golf Links area in Central Delhi area went viral in May 2015.

The woman, who was riding a two-wheeler with her three daughters including a four-month old infant, had alleged that Chand demanded a bribe of Rs 200 accusing her of violating traffic rules. When she refused, he abused her and then hit her with a brick in front of her children.

She claimed she had insisted on issuance of a receipt of the fine he was demanding when he started hurling abuses. The video clip on television channels showed the woman picking up a brick and hurling it at the cop’s bike while the constable was seen attacking her back with another brick.

After investigation, the police filed the charge sheet against Chand for alleged offences of causing hurt and indulging in mischief to cause damage under the IPC, entailing a maximum punishment of two years, but said no offence was made out under the PC Act.

The court said the scrutiny of the unedited CD obtained from news channels revealed that initially the woman had thrown a stone towards Chand and thereafter, he threw a stone at her which hit her back.

“A scuffle then took place between them. The video recording also shows that many passers-by stopped at the spot and tried to intervene in the matter by stopping the cop.

Transcription of the voice recording reflected that there was no demand of illegal gratification by Chand,” it said and sent the charge sheet to the court of district judge for assigining it to a magistrate.

The court said in its order that the CD showed when the woman jumped the signal, Chand wanted to challan her but she refused to pay or give her driving licence and registration papers of the scooter which led to heated arguments.

After the incident, Chand was initially suspended and later on dismissed from service with immediate effect as the incident triggered widespread outrage.

( Source – PTI )

Bribery case: Alleged middleman moves court for bail

An alleged middleman has moved a Delhi court seeking bail in a bribery case involving suspended top official in the Chhattisgarh government B L Agrawal.

In his plea before special judge Virender Kumar Goyal, the accused, Bhagwan Singh, who is currently in judicial custody, claimed that the probe was already complete and there was no possibility that he would hamper it if the relief was granted.

The court has put up the matter for arguments on May 3 when it will also hear the bail plea of another accused, Syed Burhanuddin, who had claimed to be an official working in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The court had on March 31 denied bail to Agrawal and took cognisance of the charge sheet filed by CBI against all the four accused — Agrawal, his relative Anand Agrawal, Singh and Burhanuddin, who are currently in judicial custody.

“I have gone through the material filed with the charge sheet, I take cognizance of the offence under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) IPC and section 8 (taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant) of Prevention of Corruption Act against the accused,” the judge said.

He also directed the CBI to supply charge sheet copy to accused persons by May 8, the next date of hearing.

In it charge sheet, the agency has alleged that Agrawal, a 1988 batch IAS officer who was the Principal Secretary in the Chhattisgarh government, wanted to “settle” an ongoing CBI probe against him.

According to CBI, the officer was facing investigation in two cases registered in 2010 when he was the Health Secretary in the state government. He has been charge sheeted in one case, while the probe is going on in the other.

The agency has alleged that the officer had allegedly approached Bhagwan Singh, a resident of Noida, who took him to Burhanuddin to get a graft case “settled”.

Burhanuddin, who has many aliases, claimed that he would help him settle the case in his favour. Burhanuddin aka OP Singh aka OP Sharma demanded Rs 1.5 crore as illegal gratification for his services, the CBI alleged.

At a meeting between the trio, Agrawal agreed to pay the amount to get relief in the cases against him, it alleged, adding that Agrawal sent Rs 60 lakh in four instalments to Bhagwan Singh using hawala channel, it claimed.

When Agrwal expressed inability to arrange cash for the remaining amount, Burhanuddin and Singh agreed to accept two kg of gold as illegal gratification, it alleged.

The agency registered a case of criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Agrawal, Singh and others.

Delhi Court holds AAP MLA can’t be charged

Delhi Court holds AAP MLA can't be charged
Delhi Court holds AAP MLA can’t be charged

A Delhi court has dismissed a corruption complaint against an AAP MLA, saying though it had prima facie found that he had breached the cap for poll expenses during 2013 Assembly election, he cannot be charged under Prevention of Corruption Act as he was not a public servant at that time.

“I have gone through the complaint and the documents thoroughly from which, it prima facie appears that respondent 1 (Tripathi) incurred more election expense than prescribed limit. However, in my prima facie opinion the same was incurred when he was only a contesting candidate for the post of MLA and not a public servant,” Special Judge Hemani Malhotra said.

The court’s order came on a complaint filed against Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, MLA from Model Town here, for allegedly spending over the prescribed limit of Rs 14 lakh in the 2013 election campaign.

The judge further said, “The act/conduct of Tripathi by submitting accounts after he became an MLA to explain the expenditure incurred by him before he was elected as MLA is not an offence committed under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act as when the election expenses were incurred, he was not a public servant.”

The court also said that the remedy/action against a candidate’s misconduct lies under the Representation of the People Act, 1950 which may result in disqualification of an elected candidate.

The court also referred to a Supreme Court verdict in which it had said under the Election Rules if an account is found to be incorrect or untrue by Election Commission after enquiry, the Election Commission may disqualify the said person.

The complaint filed by activist and lawyer Vivek Garg had also sought FIR against some officials of Election Commission (ECI), Delhi Chief Electoral Office (CEO) here and some officials of Delhi government, for allegedly colluding with Tripathi to manipulate the account of expenditure incurred by him.

The court, while dismissing the plea, also noted that a sanction to prosecute the officials of ECI, CEO and Delhi government was missing and referred to a Supreme Court judgement saying the court cannot take notice of private complaint against a public servant without a sanction order.

“Court cannot lose sight of the fact that the complainant has also impleaded responsible officials of the Election Commission of India and of government of Delhi who are public servants, as proposed accused under PC Act,” it said

Referring to an apex court judgement, the judge said, “It has been categorically held that Special Judge could not have taken notice of the private complaint against the public servant unless the same was accompanied by a sanction order.”

The judge, however, agreed with the contention of the complainant that no sanction was needed to prosecute an MLA.

( Source – PTI )

Chhota Rajan passport case: 3 ex-officials get bail

Chhota Rajan passport case
Chhota Rajan passport case

A special court today granted bail to three retired public servants, chargesheeted along with underworld don Chhota Rajan in an alleged fake passport case, after they appeared before it in pursuance to the summmons issued to them.

Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar gave the relief to retired passport officers — Jay Shree Rahate, Deepak Natvarlal Shah and Lalitha Laxamanan — after they furnished a bail bond of Rs 50,000 each and one surety of like amount.

While granting bail, the court directed the accused not to leave the country without its prior permission.

During the brief hearing, the CBI told the court that they would supply copies of the documents filed by it along with the charge sheet to the accused.

The court has now fixed the matter for March 30 for scrutiny of documents by the accused.

Rajan is presently lodged in jail under judicial custody.

The court had issued summons to the accused on February 5 after taking cognizance on the charge sheet and observing that since these public servants have already retired, no sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was required to be taken before proceeding against them.

According to the CBI, Rajan had got his first fake passport issued from Bengaluru on January 1, 1998 allegedly in connivance with the three officials, who were then passport officers, in the name of a fictitious person, Mohan Kumar.

The agency had told the court that Rajan had allegedly got his passport issued twice from Indian missions abroad on the basis of a fake travel document issued to him in the name of Mohan Kumar from the Bengaluru passport office in 1998.

The agency has filed the charge sheet for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the IPC and under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI sources has said these officers had allegedly ignored rules and regulations of verification while issuing the passport on fake identity and address.

CBI has claimed that on the basis of passport issued in Mohan Kumar’s name, Rajan had allegedly got another passport issued on December 19, 2003 from High Commission of India at Harare, Zimbabwe, and another one from the Consulate General of India in Sydney.

Deported after being on the run for 27 years, the 55-year old gangster, who was once a close aide of fugitive terrorist and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was brought to India to face trial in over 70 cases of murder, extortion and drug smuggling in Delhi and Mumbai.

He was deported to India after his arrest in Bali in October last year.

PTI

Two judges held in corruption case

Two judges of the lower judiciary in Gujarat, who were suspended last month on charges of taking money to settle cases during their posting in Vapi court in 2014, have been arrested by the vigilance cell of the Gujarat High Court under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Both the judges of the rank of Judicial Magistrate First Class–A D Acharya and P D Inamdar–who were caught on camera allegedly discussing about settlement of money to pass favourable orders, were today sent to 14 days judicial custody by a Valsad court.

According to Registrar General of the High Court, B N Karia the vigilance cell investigated the case and filed an FIR in the case of corruption.

Karia said they were produced in a Valsad court and the Vigilance Department of the High Court has also initiated process of the case.

According to sources in the High Court, the two arrested judges were kept in the Gujarat High Court building on Wednesday and before their production in Valsad court yesterday.
The two judges were today sent to the judicial custody in Navsari sub-jail jail by Valsad district court judge M M Mansuri after they their bail plea was turned down.

The Vigilance Cell of the High court initiated inquiry in the case on a complaint by a Vapi-based lawyer Jagat Patel, who had alleged that they indulged in corruption.

According to Patel’s complaint, he had fixed spy cameras in the court-rooms of both the judges which recorded their activities for three months from February to April 2014.

In the recording, they were allegedly found talking to lawyers on phone and in person about dealing and negotiating the amounts to give favourable orders.

Having received the complaint, the HC Vigilance Cell began a probe on the issue and later booked the judges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for forgery of court records and passing of forged documents as genuine.

Following the probe, the HC suspended them last month. Acharya was serving JMFC in Shihor taluka in Bhavnagar district and Inamdar was posted in Jamkhambhaliya taluka court in Jamnagar district at the time of their suspension.

The two were suspended after the vigilance cell registered an FIR against them along with 10 others, including one stenographer B D Shrimali and one clerk B G Prajapati and eight lawyers–who allegedly got favours in their favour through bribes

HC quashes FIR against CBI lawyer in bribery case

Rapping the CBI for arresting its own counsel in a bribery case without an iota of evidence, the Bombay High Court has quashed the FIR lodged against the lawyer for criminal conspiracy and corruption.

On March 6, 2012, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Bureau had arrested Mandar Goswami, when he was the agency’s counsel, along with former MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and his son Kailash, for allegedly accepting bribe from the Gidwanis to weaken the charges levelled against them in the Adarsh society scam.

The CBI claimed to have stumbled upon the case with the arrest of tax consultant J K Jagiasi, who had allegedly asked an Air India official, accused in a CBI case, to pay Rs 50 lakh bribe for dilution of charges levelled against him.

The AI official approached the CBI and a trap was laid after which Jagiasi was arrested on February 20, 2012. During interrogation, Jagiasi revealed that he had approached other accused also, including Gidwani.

The CBI in its charge sheet claimed that Jagiasi entered into a criminal conspiracy with Goswami, who represented CBI in several cases, including the Adarsh scam in High Court, for diluting the case.

The Gidwanis had allegedly paid a bribe of Rs 1.25 crore to Jagiasi, who had flaunted his close links with CBI officers, including Goswami, to weaken the charges. Jagiasi in turn allegedly gave Rs 25 lakh to Goswami, the CBI claimed.

Goswami had in 2013 approached the High Court seeking to quash the case lodged against him.

Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Goswami, argued before the High Court that CBI has no evidence against his client.

“Nowhere in the charge sheet, the CBI has said that my client (Goswami) demanded or accepted money from the Gidwanis or anyone else. Jagiasi randomly dropped names to the Gidwanis and others and demanded bribe. There is no evidence that Goswami had demanded money,” he said.

After hearing the arguments and perusing the CBI charge sheet, Justice M L Tahaliyani was also of the opinion that there was no evidence against Goswami.

The court observed that Jagiasi had taken names of several persons, including top CBI officers, probing agency’s counsel Ejaz Khan and former Advocate General Darius Khambata.

“Why have you (CBI) picked only Goswami from this lot and launched prosecution against him? Do you (CBI) have any other evidence against him? Was he caught accepting bribe money or is there any evidence that shows he demanded the money?” Justice Tahaliyani queried.

When the agency could not respond to the query, the court quashed the case lodged against Goswami.

“The applicant (Goswami) stands discharged of the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and sections 7 and 10 of Prevention of Corruption Act,” Justice Tahaliyani ordered on March 17

HC quashes FIR against CBI lawyer in bribery case

Rapping the CBI for arresting its own counsel in a bribery case without an iota of evidence, the Bombay High Court has quashed the FIR lodged against the lawyer for criminal conspiracy and corruption.

On March 6, 2012, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Bureau had arrested Mandar Goswami, when he was the agency’s counsel, along with former MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and his son Kailash, for allegedly accepting bribe from the Gidwanis to weaken the charges levelled against them in the Adarsh society scam.

The CBI claimed to have stumbled upon the case with the arrest of tax consultant J K Jagiasi, who had allegedly asked an Air India official, accused in a CBI case, to pay Rs 50 lakh bribe for dilution of charges levelled against him.

The AI official approached the CBI and a trap was laid after which Jagiasi was arrested on February 20, 2012. During interrogation, Jagiasi revealed that he had approached other accused also, including Gidwani.

The CBI in its charge sheet claimed that Jagiasi entered into a criminal conspiracy with Goswami, who represented CBI in several cases, including the Adarsh scam in High Court, for diluting the case.

The Gidwanis had allegedly paid a bribe of Rs 1.25 crore to Jagiasi, who had flaunted his close links with CBI officers, including Goswami, to weaken the charges. Jagiasi in turn allegedly gave Rs 25 lakh to Goswami, the CBI claimed.

Goswami had in 2013 approached the High Court seeking to quash the case lodged against him.

Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Goswami, argued before the High Court that CBI has no evidence against his client.

“Nowhere in the charge sheet, the CBI has said that my client (Goswami) demanded or accepted money from the Gidwanis or anyone else. Jagiasi randomly dropped names to the Gidwanis and others and demanded bribe. There is no evidence that Goswami had demanded money,” he said.

After hearing the arguments and perusing the CBI charge sheet, Justice M L Tahaliyani was also of the opinion that there was no evidence against Goswami.

The court observed that Jagiasi had taken names of several persons, including top CBI officers, probing agency’s counsel Ejaz Khan and former Advocate General Darius Khambata.

“Why have you (CBI) picked only Goswami from this lot and launched prosecution against him? Do you (CBI) have any other evidence against him? Was he caught accepting bribe money or is there any evidence that shows he demanded the money?” Justice Tahaliyani queried.

When the agency could not respond to the query, the court quashed the case lodged against Goswami.

“The applicant (Goswami) stands discharged of the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and sections 7 and 10 of Prevention of Corruption Act,” Justice Tahaliyani ordered on March 17

Seeking nod to prosecute official in coalscam: CBI

CBI today told a special court that it has sent the necessary records of a coalscam case to the authority concerned for considering grant of sanction to prosecute a Ministry of Coal (MoC) official for his alleged role in the matter.  The agency’s move came after the court on January 30 had said that former Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and MoC official L S Janoti had allegedly committed criminal misconduct and facilitated AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd to unlawfully obtain a coal block.

“It is submitted by the senior public prosecutor that the necessary relevant records have been sent to the authority for considering according sanction to prosecute public servant involved. Accordingly, put up for March 31,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

CBI had earlier apprised the court that administrative approval was obtained for sending records to the competent authority for considering grant of sanction to prosecute the public servant for his alleged role in the case.

The court, in its January 30 order, had asked CBI to further investigate the case in which the agency has already chargesheeted Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, Director of AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd Manoj Jayaswal and the firm, as accused.

It had noted that Bagrodia, Gupta and Janoti had allegedly entered into a conspiracy with private parties in the allocation of Bander coal block in Maharashtra to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd.

The court had also said that out of these three persons, only Janoti was still in active government service and prior sanction of the competent authority was required to prosecute him for offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act.