Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar and four others, arrested in an alleged corruption case, were on Tuesday remanded to five days CBI custody by a special court which was told by the agency that the IAS officer was “intimidating” witnesses.
Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar sent Kumar, Deputy Secretary in Kejriwal’s office Tarun Sharma, Kumar’s close aide Ashok Kumar and owners of a private firm, Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Gupta, to CBI custody. During the hearing, CBI sought 10 days custodial interrogation of the accused, claiming that Rajendra Kumar was an influential person and it was impossible to conduct a fair probe in the matter without arresting him as he was intimidating witnesses.
“He is an influential and highly placed bureaucrat. We cannot have a fair investigation without arresting him as he was intimidating witnesses,” the CBI prosecutor told the court. At this juncture, the judge asked “is there any incident of intimidating witnesses?”
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Responding to the query, the agency officer said “yes, we have recorded the statements of such witnesses.” The agency further alleged that there was a nexus among the arrested accused and Kumar was well-acquainted with all of them and that they had conspired in award of contract to Endeavour Systems Pvt Ltd.
Observing that the money trail has to be ascertained, it said the agency had the audio tapes of conversations between Kumar and other accused persons. Opposing the application for CBI remand, senior advocate Mohit Mathur, who appeared for Kumar, said no ground has been mentioned in the agency’s plea which reflects that CBI remand was required.
He said there was no single paper on record which suggested that his client had any relation with other arrested accused. Mathur also argued that there was no allegation against Kumar that he has caused any wrongful loss to anybody. Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who appeared for Sharma, said his client had cooperated in the probe and there was no ground to arrest him.
Similarly, the other three accused said they had also participated in the investigation and hence there was no need to arrest them.
The agency countered the arguments advanced by the defence counsel and said the probe into the case was going on and some evidence has surfaced which may lead to offences of forgery and cheating as well. The court after hearing the arguments said it will pronounce its order on CBI’s plea seeking 10 days remand of
the accused later in the day.
At the fag end of the hearing, accused Dinesh Gupta told the judge, “I am being pressurised to become an approver and I have been threatened by CBI.” The five accused were arrested in connection with a case of showing undue favours to a private company in award of government contracts worth over Rs 50 crore.
Kumar, a 1989 IAS officer of UT cadre, was called along with Tarun Sharma besides three other private persons for questioning at the CBI headquarters yesterday. The CBI had registered a case against Kumar and others in December last year alleging that the officer had abused his official position by “favouring a particular firm in the last few years in getting tenders of Delhi government departments”.
The charges pressed by the CBI are under sections 120-B of IPC (criminal conspiracy), and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act relating to criminal misconduct for allegedly favouring a private company –Endeavour Systems Pvt Ltd– in bagging five contracts.
The CBI alleged that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy and caused a loss of Rs 12 crore to the Delhi Government in award of contracts between 2007 and 2015, and claimed that the officials had taken “undue benefit” of over Rs three crore while awarding the contract.
This is the same case in which CBI had come under scathing criticism from court which directed it to return the documents sought by the Delhi government seized during December 15, 2015 raids on Kejriwal’s office. The case was registered on a complaint from former Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) member Ashish Joshi to the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) earlier last year.
The complaint was forwarded to CBI in July last following which the agency registered an FIR after a five-month probe. According to CBI, the five contracts were allegedly awarded to Endeavour Systems when Kumar was holding various posts in the Delhi government. The contracts include a project for development of a comprehensive management system without any tendering process.