The Godha brothers arrested by the CBI on Saturday for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 50 lakh on behalf of their brother-in-law and Chairman and Managing Director of Syndicate Bank S K Jain are no stranger to controversy.
While Vineet Godha is a former Congress spokesman and legal cell in-charge, Puneet Godha is one of the main real-estate developers in Bhopal.
In 2007, the two had been questioned for days by the police in connection with the murder of a builder and small-time journalist, Pawan Jain ‘Vidrohi’.
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Vidrohi and his driver were shot when they were on their way back from Vidisha, where he and the Godha brothers had business interests. The brothers were later given a clean chit by investigators, including the CBI to which the case had been passed.
For some time after that, the Godhas kept a low profile, but their clout never diminished.
Vineet is believed to be close to mining baron Sudhir Sharma, the BJP’s former education cell in-charge now behind bars for his role in the MPPEB scam, as well as real estate tycoon Dileep Suryavanshi, who also has links with the ruling party. An office of Suryavanshi’s firm Dilip Buildcon is located on a premises owned by Godha.
The CBI is now looking for Purushottam Totlani, who allegedly gave the Rs 50 lakh to Vijay Pahuja, the third person arrested along with the Godha brothers.
Vineet has appeared in many cases involving Congress leaders. He is currently representing former leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh in two defamation cases, one of them filed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh.
On Sunday, S K Jain, the Godha brothers and Pahuja were remanded in CBI custody for four days. Also remanded were CMD, Prakash Industries, Ved Prakash Agarwal, Director Vipul Agarwal, chartered accountant Pawan Bansal and Pankaj Bansal.
The Godhas live in a huge bungalow in Bhopal’s Arera Colony locality and own a fleet of luxury cars. Their father S C Godha is a prominent lawyer with expertise especially in land deals.
Vineet was appointed PCC secretary when late deputy chief minister Subhash Yadav was the state president. He later became a party spokesman.
Puneet is associated with Vardhaman Construction, which is developing a slew of housing projects across Bhopal.
The brothers’ lawyer Subhash Bhattacharya said his clients had been framed. “No money was recovered from them. In any case, they are private citizens and can’t be booked under a law meant for public servants. Moreover, the Supreme Court has recently held that immediate arrest for offences punishable up to seven years’ jail term should be avoided, and the police should record reasons if the arrest is necessary,” Bhattarcharya told The Indian Express.
The lawyer had sought bail for the brothers in the Bhopal court but they were sent on transit remand in CBI custody. Bhattacharya said he will oppose the agency’s remand application on Monday.