Key witness to CBI court: CBI officer harassed me

Says was interrogated in the absence of a woman constable; public prosecutor says she was trying to suppress the truth.

Written by RAGHAV OHRI | Chandigrah | Published: November 24, 2013 2:21:45 am

Alleging “harassment” at the hands of CBI sleuths,one of the key witnesses in the paper leak scam that dates back to 1998,has alleged that a CBI inspector had forced her to depose against former PU controller of examination Dr Sodhi Ram.

In a damaging statement,Asha Chawla,61,who was then serving as a senior assistant in the Controller of Examinations Branch,has alleged that a CBI Inspector used “unparliamentary language”. She has also alleged that she was interrogated by the Inspector in the absence of a woman constable.

In her deposition before the special CBI court,Chandigarh,she has also alleged that the Inspector “forced” her to give statement against Ram to save herself from “legal action”.

Chawla deposed before special CBI judge Vimal Kumar. She has minced no words in alleging that she was “harassed” by the CBI officer.

However,the public prosecutor for the CBI countered her accusations by submitting that she was trying to suppress the truth.

Denying it,Chawla has submitted that in order to harass her,her husband was also summoned by the CBI officer. Clarifying that she is not an accused in any criminal case registered by the CBI,she has stated that she is “not afraid of any police authority”.

Significantly,out of over three dozen witnesses in the case,the majority have turned hostile.

Chandigarh Newsline was the first to report on May 26,1998,that a theory paper of Maths had been leaked. Taking cognisance,the then vice-chancellor M M Puri had ordered a commission of inquiry. On June 6 the same year,Puri wrote to the CBI,requesting the agency to probe the matter so as to “restore the honour of the university”.

The CBI agreed and registered an FIR on July 21,1998,under the Prevention of Corruption Act. On June 9,2000,the investigating officer recorded the confession of one Dhan Singh,an accused in the case who worked as a clerk with the university,who named Ram. Singh alleged that Ram had asked him to leak two papers. Following the confession,Ram was arrested the same day. After remaining behind bars for seven months,he was released on January 17,2001.

The CBI had produced the challan in the case in the lower court on August 4,2000. Ram clarified his stand before the PU Senate on August 26,2000,following which the Senate refused to grant sanction to prosecute him. Dropping charges of corruption,the court had then framed charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy against Ram.

He had immediately moved the HC. As the CBI failed to file a response against the revision petition of Ram,the HC had stayed the trial court proceedings. The stay was vacated two years back following which Ram had moved the Supreme Court. However,he had withdrawn his appeal from the Supreme Court last year.

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