Suspected forged vouchers showing inordinately high expenditures being examined

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which seized a large number of documents pertaining to suspicious transactions during searches conducted on Wednesday across five States in connection with the alleged malpractice during the March 30 Rajya Sabha biennial elections in Jharkhand, is now focussing on unravelling the purported money trail in the alleged horse-trading.

During the search at the Gurgaon-based office of Pawan Kumar Dhoot, owner of Dhoot Infrastructure Projects Limited, the agency seized vouchers showing “inordinately high expenditures” which they suspect could have been forged to conceal real transactions. The CBI would verify each and every voucher to ascertain if they were generated from genuine transactions and connected the money's source and destination.

Similar vouchers were seized purportedly from the possession of Mr. Dhoot's associate Sunil Maheshwari, and they are being examined. “While the Income-Tax Department is probing the monetary transactions to ascertain if there was any violation of tax laws, the CBI is investigating the trail to find out whether there is any criminality involved,” said an official. Apart from the bank passbooks seized during the searches, the agency would also verify the source of a fixed deposit for Rs.40 lakh purportedly found at the residence of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Sita Soren's father Budh Narain Manji at Jharsuguda in Odisha.

The CBI has also been studying call details of the mobile phones used by those under the scanner before and after the elections were cancelled to examine if there is any concrete circumstantial evidence to establish the charges of collusion. Details of the phones purportedly used by independent MLA Chamra Linda have revealed that he was in regular touch with Mr. Dhoot. If necessary, the CBI may seek cooperation from the persons concerned to crosscheck their findings during the probe.

The agency had on Wednesday conducted searches at 18 places in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Haryana. Premises of 20 MLAs in Jharkhand have so far been searched.

In a related development, CBI Director A.P. Singh is learnt to have excused himself from supervision of the probe in the case as he belongs to the Jharkhand cadre. He had also served as the Officer on Special Duty to a former State Chief Minister. The case is being supervised by the recently promoted Special Director Saleem Ali.