Mumbai: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested four persons including its own counsel and a former Congress legislator on charges of criminal conspiracy for diluting the charges against the politician in the Adarsh case. The CBI said that the politician paid Rs 1.25 crores to a tax consultant to be given to the CBI officials for favours. A special CBI court on Tuesday remanded all the accused to police custody till March 16.
The agency indicated it may arrest more persons in the case.
Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, the former Congress Member of Legislative Council (MLC) who has already been named in the Adarsh First Information Report (FIR) by the CBI, was arrested along with his son Kailash Gidwani, Retainer Counsel for CBI Mandar Goswamy and tax consultant sum lawyer J K Jagiasi.
The Gidwanis and Mr Goswamy have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); and 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Mr Jagiasi has been booked under sections 120(B) of the IPC and 8, 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
While Mr Jagiasi was arrested on Monday afternoon, the Gidwanis were arrested late night on Monday. Mr Goswami was arrested early morning on Tuesday.
The CBI said that Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, through his son Kailash transferred Rs 1.25 crores over a period of time to Mr Jagiasi in instalments to be given to the CBI officials, so that they could dilute the charges slapped on the politician in the Adarsh case. The CBI counsel told the additional sessions judge A M Kshatriya that Rs 25 lakh of the total sum was given to Mr Goswamy, Special Counsel in the Ministry of Law & Justice who had recently started working as Retainer Counsel for the CBI here.
“The money was given at a particular place which has been identified by us in six hours. There are documents which show transfer of funds. Prima facie, we have evidence that there is connection (among the accused). Custodial interrogation is necessary to study the transfer of amounts,” special public prosecutor for CBI, ACB, Ejaz Khan told the court.
The CBI stumbled upon the conspiracy after it arrested Mr Jagiasi on February 20 in a trap case, while accepting a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from an Air India official. His investigation revealed information about the transaction of Rs 1.25 crores between him and the Gidwanis. The agency seized the tax consultant’s 13 lockers and 26 diaries in which they found records for the money transaction.
The CBI said that it wants to interrogate Mr Jagiasi to recover five Petty Cash Books of the relevant period in last year which has details of the cash transactions. “This is a case of deep-rooted criminal conspiracy and several more persons are involved in this case. Custodial interrogation of the accused is very necessary to unearth the whole conspiracy and the chain of transfer of bribe amount from one person to another,” the remand application submitted by the agency in the court stated.
CBI also said it wants to investigate if the money was procured through hawala transactions.
The accused argued that they were aware that Adarsh case was being supervised by the Bombay High Court and that none of the CBI officials in Mumbai were in a position to given an favour to them. They said that Mr Goswamy was one of the most junior counsels in the department and there was no evidence to understand how he was capable of influencing any officer.
Mr Goswamy’s counsel argued that he was handed over the case as recently as on February 28. “The dates given by the CBI and the date when he [Mr Goswamy] was handed the case, do not match. Till now, he has appeared only once in the Adarsh case. Mr Jagiasi worked as our tax consultant hardly for a year. How do we know what he does in his personal life by taking Mandar’s name?” Rajshree Goswami, wife of Mr Goswami, told The Hindu.
The court observed that prima facie, the allegations against the accused were serious and demanded custodial interrogation.