B. Joseph Bauline Mary, widow of a former Superintendent with Central Excise and Customs department, is desperate to operate her bank locker frozen since 1989. But she is unable to do so as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claims that files pertaining to the 25-year-old case are not traceable.

In a case filed before the Madras High Court Bench here seeking a direction to the CBI to de-freeze the locker, the widow from Nagoor village in Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchi district pointed out that the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch in Chennai had registered a case against her husband Bilavendran and four others on December 28, 1988.

The charge levelled against them was that they had colluded with a group of smugglers and undervalued certain foreign goods for the purpose of levying customs duty.

Officials from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had detected the violation during a surprise inspection and ordered an inquiry.

As part of the investigation, a bank locker, operated jointly by Mr. Bilavendran and his wife, were ordered to be frozen on February 12, 1989. However, on completion of investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation chose not to prosecute the case further.

It closed the First Information Report (FIR) in January 1990 and recommended only disciplinary action.

The departmental action resulted in an order to cut Mr. Bilavendran’s pension by 20 per cent for five years. Subsequently, he filed a petition in a Sessions court in Tiruchi seeking a direction to the investigating agency to return Rs. 47,803 seized from him and obtained favourable orders.

Thereafter, he died on September 1, 2011 before succeeding in his attempts to de-freeze the bank locker and hence the present petition. Filing a counter affidavit in the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation accepted that the FIR was closed in 1990, but expressed its inability to reply to the petitioner’s other averments as files relating to the 25-year-old case could not be traced.

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