Court grants 2 mnths to CBI for obtaining sanction to prosecute accused in Aircel-Maxis case

New Delhi: A Delhi court today granted two months time to the CBI for obtaining sanction from authorities concerned to prosecute certain accused in a case against former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in the Aircel-Maxis deal case. The agency had on July 19 filed charge sheet against the Congress leader, his son Karti, 10 individuals, including public servants, and six companies as accused in the case.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini allowed agency’s request to grant time after senior advocate Sonia Mathur told the court that sanctions are awaited. “Adjourn the matter for October 1,” the court said. Mathur, who appeared on behalf of the Central Bureau of Investigation, told the court that the agency was expecting sanctions for prosecution from concerned authorities in about four weeks.

The CBI is probing as to how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it. The senior Congress leader’s role has come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Aircel-Maxis deal of Rs 3,500-crore and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

In its charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the agency had alleged that Chidambaram had granted an FIPB approval in March, 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis. The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI charge sheet were discharged by the special court, which had said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.

Raja goes to Tihar Jail, looks calm

Former communications minister A. Raja, arrested in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam, was Thursday sent to Tihar Jail on 14 days judicial custody by a Delhi court. Wearing a dark grey safari suit, Raja looked calm and collected, his face betraying no emotion, as the order came.Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge O.P. Saini, who sent him to judicial custody till March 3 as the investigation agency did not seek any further remand for interrogation, allowed Raja to have home-cooked food, his reading glasses and medicines in the jail.

Raja’s defence counsel Ramesh Gupta moved an application that the former minister be allowed to keep his medicines, reading glasses and books with him in Tihar Jail. He also requested that Raja be allowed to get home-cooked food.

Raja arrived at the jail in west Delhi in the evening, around 6 p.m. “He is in Jail No.1,” said Sunil Gupta, Tihar Jail spokesperson. Jail No.1 is meant for high-profile prisoners.

As the order came, Raja, who seemed very relaxed, shook hands with many of his supporters who had arrived in hordes to express their support for their leader. Most of his supporters have been thronging the court where the case has been heard.

Many of them were seen touching his feet and taking his blessing. One of his supporters had Raja’s photograph in his shirt pocket and said the minister is “our god”.

After the judge issued the order in the jam-packed courtroom, a posse of policemen led Raja away. He was kept in the lock-up along with petty criminals who were all waiting to be taken to Tihar Jail in the evening.

In the jail, he would be kept away from his former colleagues, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja`s former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia. On Feb 8, they were also sent to 14 days of judicial custody, which is to end on Feb 22.

Raja was arrested Feb 2 for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal, which caused huge losses to the national exchequer, and remanded in CBI custody initially for five days.

Raja, a member of the DMK, is alleged to have sold spectrum licences at below market rates, causing a loss of Rs.22,000 crore to the national exchequer, according to the probe agency.

He was asked to resign Nov 14 last year after the Comptroller and Auditor General indicted him in the scam for causing the nation huge losses.

On Feb 8, his remand was extended for two more days after the agency told the court that he was not cooperating during questioning and was being evasive.

The former minister’s custody was extended by two more days Feb 10 on the CBI’s plea. Thereafter, on Feb 14 (Monday), the court again extended his custody with the CBI for three more days.

Kalmadi aide’s CBI custody extended

A Delhi court Thursday extended the CBI custody of former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi’s aide Shekhar Deorukhkar by two more days. He was sent to five-day remand Feb 12.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge O.P. Saini allowed the CBI’s plea to quiz him for two more days. Deorukhkar was arrested Feb 11 from Pune.

“I am satisfied that further police custodial interrogation is required to unearth the entire conspiracy. Accordingly, accused Deorukhkar is remanded to police custody til Feb 19,” he said.

Opposing the CBI plea, Deorukhkar’s counsel Hariharan told the court that the investigating officer (IO) slapped his client four times during interrogation, which was denied by the IO.

“There is no justification for extension of police custody remand,” said Hariharan.

Deorukhkar was arrested Feb 11 from Pune.

While seeking remand for Deorukhkar, CBI submitted a four-page remand application.

CBI contended before the court that Deorukhkar, Binu Nanu — the director of M/s Mero Form Indian Pvt Ltd (France) and M/s G.L. events Pvt Ltd — and V.K. Verma — DG of OC at that time — have caused huge loss to the government of India exchequer by awarding contracts to M/s Mero Form Indian Pvt Ltd (France), M/s G.L. events Pvt Ltd, M/s PICO Deepali overlays consortium (New Delhi), M/s Nussli (Switzerland), and M/s ESAJV:D Art Indo consortium at exorbitant rates to these companies.

“There is sufficient evidence on record which confirm that the accused (Deorukhkar) has accepted huge bribe amounts from the overlays suppliers for himself and other officials of OC, CWG 2010, in lieu for award of contracts at exorbitant rates and release of payments to all the five suppliers,” the CBI application says.

The Games were held in New Delhi Oct 3-14, 2010, marred by allegations of financial irregularities and corruption.

The CBI had earlier arrested three senior CWG officials – T.S. Darbari, Sanjay Mahendroo and M. Jayachandran. All the three were granted bail.

Binu Nanu, an official of a private firm who is in jail for his involvement in the row over grant of Rs.600 crore overlays contract for the CWG, was the fourth person to be picked up.

His bail plea is pending in the Delhi High Court.

Deorukhkar is the fifth person to be arrested in relation to the CWG scam.

CBI has also submitted in the application that since the investigation is not yet completed, his custody is needed.

“The accused is evasive in his replies and is not yet cooperating with the investigating agency,” the CBI said.

CBI asked to file fresh report in Aseemanand case

After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) failed to file a detailed report on how a confessional statement of Swami Assemanand – who is allegedly involved in the 2008 Ajmer blast – was made public, a Delhi court Tuesday asked the CBI director to file a fresh report in the case.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Bansal said: “The CBI report is incomplete. I had asked the director of CBI to file it, why is he not here? The CBI director will have to file a fresh, detailed report by Feb 25, without fail.”

The CBI had filed a two-page report – incomplete, according to the court – before the court refuting the claim by Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) activist Devender Gupta that it had leaked the confessional statement to the media.

“The CBI had not released a press statement to media containing Swami Aseemanand’s confessional statement made under section 164 CrPC,” the agency said.

A Delhi court was to pass an order on a plea for registering an FIR against a CBI officer and Tehelka magazine owner and editor for making public Swami Aseemanand’s confession to a court about his alleged role in the Ajmer blast case.

Gupta, arrested for his role in the 2008 Ajmer Dargah blast, is currently lodged in Delhi. He contended that an offence of a serious nature had been committed with the leakage of the confession made by Aseemanand accepting that Hindu activists were to blame for a string of bombings in the country.

The confession was recorded in Delhi by a metropolitan magistrate Dec 18.

Navy war room case: Supreme Court issues notice to CBI

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a petition by Commander (retd) Jarnail Singh Kalra seeking access to the confidential documents being relied upon by the prosecution against him and others in Navy war room leak case.

An Supreme Court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra issued notice after it was told that the prosecution case entirely rested on these confidential documents and must be given to the accused to defend the allegations against him.

The court also issued notice to the investigating agency on a plea seeking stay of the trial court’s proceedings till the issue relating to the sensitive and confidential documents was decided by the Supreme Court  held that the prosecution cannot be compelled to give confidential documents to the accused as it would be prejudicial to national interest.

The  Supreme Court gave the CBI four weeks’ time to respond on both the pleas.

The CBI registered the case in 2006 on a reference from the defence ministry after examining the report of the inquiry conducted by the Indian Navy.

The CBI claimed that the accused officers entered into a criminal conspiracy for obtaining and collecting information related to defence matters that was calculated to be or might be or was intended to be useful to the enemy or which related to a matter the disclosure of which, to unauthorised persons, was prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of the state.

Court moved over CBI probe into Orissa pulses scam

The Orissa High Court was Thursday moved by a petitioner seeking a CBI probe into an alleged multi-crore rupee scam involving supply of poor quality pulses under government welfare schemes. A team of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also plans to inquire into the allegations.

Petitioner Dilip Mohapatra said he filed the petition because he had no faith in the state’s investigating agencies and wanted “an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)”.

The alleged scam, related to supplying poor quality pulses to women and children beneficiaries of government welfare schemes, came to light after the vigilance department last month confirmed there were irregularities at several places.

Although several days have passed, the vigilance department has not initiated action against anybody yet. As a result people involved in the scam have got the chance to destroy evidence, Mohapatra said.

The state government supplies pulses under the mid-day meal scheme, the integrated child development scheme and the supplementary nutrition programme.

The pulses were cooked and distributed among women and children across the state along with other food items with the aim of providing them supplementary nutrition.

Meanwhile, a central team of the BJP headed by national secretary Kirit Somaiya is expected to visit the state next week to make an on-the-spot assessment of the irregularities in the supply of poor quality pulses.

State BJP president Jual Oram said Somaiya will visit several districts Feb 7-8. Leaders of the state unit will also accompany him, he told here.

Rajesh Talwar ‘suspected accused’: CBI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday told a court here that it was against handing over documents of teenager Aarushi Talwar’s murder case to her father Rajesh Talwar as he was a “suspected accused” in the case.

In its arguments before a special CBI court here, the investigation agency submitted that Talwar was not a complainant and was instead a “suspected accused” and hence not entitled to get documents pertaining to the case.

To this, Talwar’s lawyer Satish Tamta argued that if Talwar was a suspected accused, then why was no chargesheet filed against him. He then requested the court to order a reinvestigation into the Aarushi’s murder in 2008.

Naresh Yadav, the lawyer for three of Talwar’s domestic helps, meanwhile, submitted that a chargesheet be filed against the accused to ensure that the domestic helps are not implicated again.

Aarushi, 14, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances in her parents’ Jalvayu Vihar apartment in Noida, May 16, 2008. Their domestic help Hemraj’s body was found on the flat’s terrace a day later.

Rajesh Talwar was arrested soon after the murders but let off when investigators could find no evidence against him.

Krishna, Talwar’s medical assistant; Raj Kumar, a domestic help with a family friend of the Talwars; and Vijay Mandal, another domestic help in the neighbourhood, were also arrested during investigations but were let off due to lack of evidence.

Lalgarh killings: Kolkata lawyers seek CBI probe

Lalgarh killings

The Bar Association of Calcutta High Court Monday filed a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Jan 7 killings of villagers in West Midnapore district.

The PIL also sought adequate compensation for the families of the seven who were killed and the 20 others wounded in firing in the village close to the Maoist hub of Lalgarh.

The central government was made a respondent in the case as the PIL quoted missives from Home Minister P.Chidambaram.

Additional Solicitor General Farook Razzak, who represented the central government, said the CBI was impartial and competent to carry out the probe. ‘In my opinion, CBI is the appropriate authority. We support the cause that the CBI should investigate the case,’ he said.

Razzak pleaded before the division bench of Chief Justice J.N.Patel and Justice Asim Kumar Roy that if a CBI inquiry has to be ordered, it should be done expeditiously. A delayed investigation will yield no result.

Representing the petitioner, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy accused the West Bengal government of inaction on the matter.

‘The first information report (FIR) was filed 24 hours after the killings even though the nearest police station is just 3 km away from the spot. Again the state police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) started its investigation two days after the incident,’ Roy contended before the court.

He alleged that the CID was more interested in wiping out the evidences rather than finding the culprits.

Apprehending recurrence of the incident, the Bar Association prayed for the court’s intervention for a CBI investigation.

State Advocate General Balai Roy contented that the CID was competent enough to carry out the investigation and that there was no need for CBI investigation.

The division bench, after hearing both the parties, ordered the state government to send an officer of the rank of deputy inspector general (DIG) to Lalgarh police station to collect the case diary and produce it before the court immediately.

The matter is slated for hearing Tuesday.

Arushi murder case closure ‘setback’ for CBI: Former chief

The Central Bureau of Investigation

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) decision to close the probe in the Arushi Talwar murder case is both a ‘failure’ and ‘big setback’ for the country’s premier probe agency and may damage its image, says its former chief.

‘The murder has been committed. Two bodies are found. You can’t identify and execute the culprit? It is a failure and definitely a big setback,’ D.R. Kaarthikeyan, the former director of CBI, told in an interview.

He said the CBI started its investigation into the case late and that might have given enough time to the culprits to tamper with evidence. ‘The crime scene was cleaned up before the police arrived. Most evidence was tampered.’

Asked if the CBI should have taken more time to probe the case, Kaarthikeyan, who was also head of Special Investigation Team that probed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, said: ‘There is no point in continuing the probe when you are not sure of finding anything.’

Teenager Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances at her Noida home on the outsirts of Delhi May 16, 2008. The body of their domestic help, 45-year-old Yama Prasad Banjade alias Hemraj, initially named a suspect, was found a day later on flat’s terrace.

After two-and-a-half years of investigation, the CBI filed a closure report Dec 29, 2010 saying it could not find enough evidence to nail any suspect. A special court is hearing the case and the matter comes up for hearing again Jan 21.

‘I can understand the CBI’s compulsion. They have said that the evidence was tampered. If you don’t have enough evidence, what can you do?’ asked Kaarthikeyan.

The apex investigation agency cited tampering of evidence as a major hurdle in identifying the culprit. Intriguingly, Aarushi’s vaginal swab was also swapped. It was discovered that the swab sent for tests was not hers.

Moreover, a golf stick, suspected to be used for the murder, was found cleaned up.

The CBI has said that Aarushi’s parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar remained prime suspects. They, in turn, accused the investigative agency of cover-up and threatened to file a defamation case.

But Kaarthikeyan, also a former director general of the National Human Rights Commission, said defamation case against the CBI does not make any sense.

‘The CBI is investigating so many cases. They can’t necessarily reach a final conclusion in each case. For these things you can’t charge the CBI for defamation.’

On political pressure on CBI, Kaarthikeyan said: ‘It’s a government department. It has to work under that.’

But he emphasised that there would not have been be any political motive in closing investigation in the Arushi murder case.

CBI to court: Rajesh Talwar has no locus standi to argue

A special CBI court here adjourned hearing in the Aarushi murder case till Jan 21 and asked the probe agency to provide all documents, including its closure report, to the victim’s parents even as the CBI said her father Rajesh Talwar had no ”locus standi” to argue.

“On the basis of the findings of the closure report, no one can be counted accused hence CBI is directed to provide a copy (to the Talwars),” the court said.

Rajesh Talwar’s lawyer Satish Tamta first pleaded to the court that all documents regarding the Aarushi murder case be made available to him.

Opposing Tamta’s argument, CBI lawyer R.K. Saini told the court that Rajesh Talwar was “no more a complainant now”. He added that the Noida police had already suspected and arrested him in the case, after which he had become the accused in the case so he has “no locus standi” to argue or put his stand in the case before the court.

The court, however, did not agree with the CBI version.

In her order, CBI Special Magistrate Preeti Singh ordered the CBI to provide all documents, including a copy of the closure report, to the Talwars and adjourned the court. It will hear the case next Jan 21.

Aarushi, 14, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances in her parents’ Jalvayu Vihar apartment in Noida, May 16, 2008. Their domestic help Hemraj’s body was found on the flat’s terrace a day later.