Graft case: CBI arrests Swarna Ram’s aide

Probe agency gets day’s remand of Bhag Singh to find out how minister’s unreleased note reached realtor.

Written by RAGHAV OHRI | Chandigarh | Published: May 11, 2011 2:44:53 am

With the arrest today of Bhag Singh,private secretary to Cabinet Minister Swarna Ram,the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claims to be inching towards establishing its case against Chief Parliamentary Secretary Raj Khurana and realtor Devinder Singh,who were arrested last week on charges of corruption.

Khurana was arrested by the CBI on the night of May 4 along with Devinder Singh on the charges of demanding bribe of Rs 1.5 crore for hushing up a complaint against Manpreet Singh,the complainant in the case and general secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanic Association.

The CBI today demanded nine days’ police remand of Bhag Singh on the ground that it needs to find out how a photocopy of an official note recommending action in a fraudulent land deal was recovered from the Mohali office of a class III employee-turned-property dealer,Devinder Singh. The Special CBI Judge,Ritu Tagore,today remanded Bhag Singh to a day’s police remand. He will be produced by the CBI on Wednesday.

On the other hand,the CBI did not seek police remand of Raj Khurana and Devinder Singh as a result of which they were remanded to 14 days’ judicial custody. Appearing on behalf of CBI,public prosecutor PK Dogra contended that the investigating agency needs to interrogate Bhag Singh in order to find out why Bhag Singh did not dispatch the note recommending action in a fraudulent land deal,addressed to Manoranjan Kalia,Local Bodies Minister. The public prosecutor averred that Bhag Singh kept the note with him for over a month and did not dispatch the same for reasons best known to him.

As per available information,Swarna Ram in his statement has told the CBI that the note was not forwarded since the complainant wanted that the same shall be sent to the Chief Minister,Punjab and not to the Local Bodies Minister. The Minister also told the investigating agency that since it was beyond his purview,the note was not forwarded.

Bhag Singh was arrested by the investigating agency on Monday night around 10 pm. Meanwhile,the defence counsel for Raj Khurana and Devinder Singh alleged that the voice and the statement recordings of the duo by CBI have been done under pressure. Advocate AS Chahal and Advocate Rabindra Pandit alleged that the investigating agency forced the two accused to get their voice samples and statements recorded. The defence counsels have moved applications to this effect before the Court. The CBI has been asked to respond to the applications moved by the accused by May 24.

On the other hand,advocate AS Sukhija,defence counsel for Bhag Singh,minced no words in taking a dig at the CBI. Heated arguments took place between Sukhija and the public prosecutor as Sukhija alleged that CBI is blowing out of proportion a non-issue. Sukhija averred “there is malice and some deep motive behind CBI stretching the allegations. It seems that the CBI wants to involve a big fish in this case that is why it is unnecessarily seeking remand of everyone in the case”. Vehemently opposing the police remand,Sukhija said “why did the CBI not question Bhag Singh yesterday night itself. Why is it seeking nine days’ police remand of Bhag Singh”. Sukhija added that the note could have been obtained by anybody by requesting a peon in the Secretariat.

Devinder Singh a double-dealer?

As per preliminary investigation done by CBI,it has come to light that Devinder Singh,the alleged conduit in the case,was known to Manpreet Singh (complainant against Khurana in the present case) and Manmohan Singh,who had complained to Swarna Ram alleging fraudulent land sale. As per available information,Devinder had encouraged Manmohan Singh to file a complaint,after which he contacted Manpreet Singh in order to demand bribe from Manpreet to get the dispute settled.

Accused files plea to retract statement

“The CBI has taken signatures of the accused on blank/written papers and also asked the accused to give statement/voice samples as per their choice. The accused was under duress,threat and acute pressure of the CBI as he was in their custody. The accused is retracting from the statement which has been taken by the CBI under force and also retracting from the voice samples,” reads an application moved by the alleged conduit in the graft case Devinder Singh.

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