CBI SP Vivek Dutt, Inspector Rajesh Chandra Karnatak, 2 others are accused of taking bribe to favour a businessman in a land dispute
Senior CBI officer Vivek Dutt, who headed the coalgate scam probe team, and three others were on Friday sent to three days in the agency’s custody by a Delhi court for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 7 lakh from a businessman to favour him in a land dispute case.
Mr. Dutt, a Superintendent of Police, CBI inspector Rajesh Chandra Karnatak, alleged middleman Rajesh Pachisia and businessman Dinesh Chand Gupta were produced before the court where CBI sought seven days police custody of the four accused.
“All the accused are remanded in CBI custody till 21 May,” Special CBI Judge V.K. Gupta said.
Mr. Dutt, however, claimed innocence and alleged a conspiracy has been hatched to keep him out of the Supreme Court-monitored coalgate probe team.
During the hearing, the CBI prosecutor told the court that Mr. Dutt and Karnatak were in the same branch in the agency and Mr. Pachisia was in regular contact with them.
The CBI said Mr. Dinesh Chand Gupta had a land dispute and a cheating case was registered against him at Amar Colony police station in New Delhi and Mr. Dutt used to pressurise the Delhi Police officials, who were investigating the cheating case, to quash the FIR and for this he had demanded Rs. 15 lakh from Mr. Dinesh Chand Gupta.
The prosecutor said the SHO of Amar Colony police station was initially reluctant but later he succumbed to the pressure and the FIR was quashed.
The CBI said Mr. Pachisia was apprehended on Friday when was handing over Rs. 7 lakh to Mr. Karnatak.
The prosecutor told the court that Rs. 15 lakh cash was recovered from Mr. Pachisia, Mr. Karnatak and Mr. Dinesh Chand Gupta.
Seeking seven days custody of the four accused, the prosecutor also said that during the searches conducted by the agency, Rs. 24 lakh cash was recovered from the residence of Mr. Karnatak on Friday.
Opposing the CBI’s plea for police custody, the defence counsel said Mr. Dutt was investigating a very important case of coalgate scam under the supervision of the Supreme Court and if such an allegation is levelled against such a senior official, then the court should look into it very cautiously.
Mr. Dutt’s counsel said someone was trying to destroy career of the senior officer.
“The doubt which we have in our mind is that when an officer is involved in a very important case, then someone may try to divert the attention.
“Someone might want to remove him from the probe,” the counsel said.
He told the court that his client is being targetted and nothing has been recovered from his possession by the agency.
“He is investigating an important case under the supervision of the Supreme Court and somebody wants him not to be the part of the probe team... This is simply a device to divert the attention that the investigation in the coal scam is vitiated and the officer is corrupt,” the counsel said.
The advocates, appearing for the other accused, argued the CBI has not followed proper procedures in this case and even the case diary is not proper.
Countering the claims of the defence counsel, the CBI said they have done the investigating in a fair manner and no injustice is being done to anyone.
“Can we do injustice to our officer?... Cash has been recovered, documents have been recovered and we are doing it in a fair manner and no injustice is being done,” the prosecutor said.
He further said they have recorded many conversations between Mr. Dutt and the SHO and there are four independent witnesses who were present at the time when the cash was recovered from the possession of the accused.
The defence counsel also alleged the arrest of the four accused was illegal as they were arrested at 7 p.m. on Friday but they were allowed to inform their families only at 1 a.m.
The advocate said the maximum sentence for the offence of conspiracy under the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, for which they are charged with, is seven years and in such a situation, reasons for arrest have to be recorded, which has not been done in this case.
Mr. Dutt’s counsel said why a senior CBI officer would get involved in a dispute between two private parties.
He said Mr. Dutt is being targeted as there is no direct involvement of the CBI’s SP and nothing has been recovered from him.
“You (CBI) are diluting the important investigation which the whole country is seeing...You are diluting the probe which is being monitored by the Supreme Court,” the counsel said.
The agency has not shown the complaint of the concerned SHO who was allegedly pressurised, he said.
He also said the facts shows that it was not a trap as claimed by CBI.
“CBI has not adhered to or complied with any of the legal and legislative requirements expected in such cases,” the counsel said.
Tanmaya Mehta, one of the defence counsel, said the CBI’s investigating officer has not produced the case diary in a proper form and they have curtailed the rights of the accused after arresting them.
Mr. Mehta also said no reason for arrest has been mentioned in the remand application submitted in the court for taking the accused in seven days police custody.
“No reason to take police custody of the accused has been given in the remand application. Why does CBI require police custody? Accused are ready to tell this court what they have to say,” Mr. Mehta said.
The CBI prosecutor, however, argued they have recovered various documents and some cheques which they want to verify.
Regarding the arguments by Mr. Dutt’s counsel that he was involved in the probe into the coalgate scam, the prosecutor said “just because he is a senior CBI officer and is heading the probe into Coalgate, does it mean that he can’t do anything wrong? Do we want to arrest out officer without any proof?”
“We are also pained to arrest one of our own officers and we will not do any injustice to him. We have been working all through the night, with the officers involved not even taking time out to have food or a bath,” he said.
The CBI said the arrest took place on Friday night between 9 to 9.30 p.m.
The prosecutor said they have CD recordings allegedly containing their conversations and CBI need time to verify it.
The investigating officer told the court that “sufficient evidence” was found against the accused and thus they were arrested.