Documents on Rs. 40-lakh fixed deposit found at house of JMM MLA's father

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday conducted searches at 18 places — including the premises of an independent candidate, his associates, and that of some MLAs and their relatives — in connection with the alleged malpractice during the March 30 Rajya Sabha biennial elections in Jharkhand.

With the help of local police, the CBI's Ranchi team searched the premises of two independent MLAs, Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda, and relatives of three MLAs from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

A CBI official said: “Searches were conducted at Ranchi, Dumka and Godda in Jharkhand, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Delhi and Gurgaon. A team searched the premises of Pawan Kumar Dhoot, independent who was allegedly involved in horse-trading that led to the countermanding of the March 30 elections. Documents pertaining to a fixed deposit for Rs. 40 lakh were found at the residence of JMM MLA Sita Soren's father, Budh Narain Manji, at Jharsuguda in Odisha.”

Investigations revealed that Mr. Linda was in constant touch with Mr. Dhoot on the phone ahead of the elections.

The agency carried out searches on the Gurgaon premises of Mr. Dhoot's infrastructure project company, from where a large number of vouchers purportedly showing inordinately high expenditures during March were seized. “More such vouchers were found onthe Kolkata premises of his associate, Sunil Maheshwari. The premises of Mr. Dhoot's company director, Sourav Tapadia, and the Delhi residence of chartered accountant Vaibhav Tapadia were searched,” said the official.

During the mammoth exercise, a flat purportedly belonging to an agent, Ram Bangar, was also searched in Ranchi. “We have seized some mobile phones, bank passbooks and legal documents. Till now, we have searched the premises of 20 MLAs, this being the fourth round in the horse-trading case,” said the official.

The CBI had registered the case under Sections 171F and 188 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code on a reference from the Election Commission of India, along with the directions of the Jharkhand High Court. A complaint was initially lodged at Ranchi's Namkoum police station after the recovery of Rs. 2.15 crore in cash from a car purportedly belonging to a relative of independent candidate R. K. Agarwal. The agency had earlier not named any candidate or legislator in the case. However, as the probe progressed, the names of three MLAs and Mr. Agarwal were included.