The Bombay High Court on Thursday rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a 25-year old murder conspiracy case, where an employee of Reliance Industries had been accused of conspiring to kill industrialist Nusli Wadia. “When Mr. Wadia was ready to depose, what was the impediment for you to call him? This is very serious, if you haven’t made efforts to summon him when he has been saying he is willing,” Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said. She has given the agency time till Friday to clarify on the matter.
Ms. Mohite-Dere was hearing a petition filed by Kirti Ambani, a senior executive of Reliance industries who directly reported to Mukesh Ambani. He has sought restrain against Mr. Wadia from deposing in the case in the trail court.
Mr. Wadia’s lawyer argued that the CBI had tried to find an inconsequential witness from the United States of America, but did not summon him despite requests.
“Is this not collusion? I don’t know. I have come specifically from abroad to record my statement. And they are scuttling my evidence. This is CBI, the country’s premier investigating agency. If this doesn’t shake the conscience, what will?” Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Mr. Wadia, said.
He said he had written an application to the CBI on March 6, 2012, and to the trial court on April 2, 2013, seeking dates for the recording of his statement. “I am an NRI. Previously, when I was not here and they (CBI) sent me summons, they had threatened to issue a Non-Bailable Warrant against me. When I came down and wrote to them to record my statement, they never contacted me again,” Mr. Jethmalani said.
The court observed it was strange that the CBI did nothing to summon Mr. Wadia, after the prosecutor in the trial court claimed it was her responsibility to bring him. When the CBI counsel told the court that the agency didn't take any steps after the prosecutor made such a statement, the judge said, “If you are saying she (prosecutor) was responsible, put it on paper. File an affidavit because this is strange.”
Mr. Jethmalani claimed the witness who deposed before the trial court from USA, did not have any knowledge of the corporate conspiracy against him. “Kupuswamy was a factory manager at that time, who had no idea about the corporate conspiracy generally hatched in the board rooms. He is no longer with me. All this is being done behind my back,” he said.
The court then observed that when the best witness was available to the CBI with respect to deposition on possible motive and conspiracy, the CBI took effort to contact Mr. Kupuswamy and record his statement through Skype.
Kirti Ambani, in his petition, has challenged the lower court order allowing Mr. Wadia to depose in the case pertaining to conspiracy to murder him. He has claimed that Mr. Wadia had an ulterior motive in filing an application for deposition, nearly 25 years after the case was registered. “It is a motivated application with ulterior motive,” Amit Desai, appearing for Mr. Ambani, said.
The trial in the matter began only in 2003. The CBI has said it has no objection in allowing Mr. Wadia to depose, as it would not cause any prejudice to any accused at this stage.
Mr. Wadia has claimed his deposition will only throw light on the motive behind the conspiracy. “The concern (of the petition) seems to be wider conspiracy and not Kirti Ambani. As far as Kirti Ambani is concerned, the motive of his act is important. If he wasn't asked by his boss to do so, he was an extremely overzealous employee who conspired because may be I was threatening his livelihood,” Mr. Jethmalani argued.
The court is to hear the matter further on Friday.