A NAGPUR-based real estate broker was arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch Tuesday in connection with an alleged cash-for-transfer scam, wherein police officials allegedly paid money to get a posting of choice. The accused, identified as Ritesh Rakhunde alias Chandrankant alias Bhayyaji (39), was arrested last night. The police had earlier arrested five persons, including a senior official of Mahananda dairy and a man who claims to have been part of the Central Board of Film Certification, in the past. The five whose custody was to be over on Tuesday were produced before the Esplanade court and their custody extended till June 12.
An officer linked to the case said, “Rakhunde was continuously in touch with the other arrested accused. We found several WhatsApp conversations from the mobile phone of the arrested accused, which indicate that the Nagpur resident was helping them carry out the racket.” The officer added, “Rakhunde is well-known in Nagpur and is an estate agent there.” The police, in their remand application, said they were looking for other accomplices linked to the arrested accused.
Seeking his custody, investigating officer Sanjay Salunkhe told the magistrate that they needed further custody to jointly interrogate Rakhunde along with the accused arrested last week. The public prosecutor told the court that “the scam had its roots in Delhi” and there was a possibility that the accused would have to be taken to Delhi.
The lawyer for Rakhunde told the court that his client was a social worker who shuttled between Mumbai and Nagpur. “Just because the other arrested accused had his phone number in their mobile phones, does not mean he is also involved. By that logic, even Rakhunde has mobile phone numbers of several politicians. Does that make them guilty too,” the lawyer argued.
Other defence lawyers argued that the accused had been interrogated for a week and there was no need for further custody. The lawyer of another accused, Vidyasagar Hirmukhe, a high-ranking Mahananda official, argued that Hirmukhe was a victim in the case, much like deputy police commissioner Namdeo Chavan, the complainant in the case who he said was approached by the accused with an offer of a plum posting. “Hirmukhe was the one who had been approached by the accused and offered a plum posting, like (they had approached) Chavan. Hirmukhe is known to be an upright officer and had earlier worked in the anti corruption bureau,” the defence argued. The magistrate remanded the six accused to police custody till June 12. The accused are currently being interrogated by unit 8 of the crime branch.