Ruia Group Chairman and Jessop owner Pawan Kumar Ruia on Wednesday did not appear before state CID officers who are probing the charges of arson and conspiracy related to repeated incidents of fire at the company’s factory at Dum Dum. The CID had summoned Ruia to appear at their headquarters for a probe ordered by the state government. DIG (CID) Bharat Lal Meena said: “He hasn’t appeared before the CID today. We will send him a notice, and he will probably be summoned again on Friday.”
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This comes on a day when the Calcutta High Court refused to stay proceedings against Ruia in connection with the case filed by CID, and directed him to cooperate in the investigation. Vacation judge Justice Samapti Chatterjee, however, directed the CID not to take any coercive action against Ruia until further orders. The judge also directed that Ruia’s application seeking quashing of the case against him be heard by a regular bench in December.
Ruia had moved the high court seeking quashing of the case filed against him by the CID, claiming that he is not the chairman of Jessop, and that he is neither the director nor a shareholder, or an occupier of Jessop and Co. Ltd. or any of its premises.
His counsel Bikash Bhattacharya wondered while submitting before the court how his name can be dragged into the issue given Ruia’s present position. Ruia had bought majority stake in the ailing heavy engineering firm Jessop in 2003, when the Government of India sold off the public sector undertaking.
The Mamata government, however, passed a Bill in the state Assembly earlier this year for taking over the company again from the Ruia Group, where production has remained suspended for a substantial time.
Till now, the CID has arrested 16 people on charge of trespassing and theft at the factory. On Wednesday, CID officers had visited the site to gather further evidence.
On Tuesday, it had summoned three senior company officials, including CEO Ashok Agarwal, for questioning with regard to the thefts.
Agarwal was later arrested by the Dum Dum police on charge of unauthorised removal of employees provident fund. During questioning, the CID sleuths came to know that several cases were pending against Agarwal at Dum Dum police station.
The arrest took place days after “proprietor” Pawan Ruia and the management of the Jessop & Co Ltd were booked for “criminal and calculated omission with some ulterior motive” in the functioning of the factory.