A Delhi court has sentenced former IRS officer Ashutosh Verma, alleged defence middleman Suresh Nanda and chattered accountant Bipin Shah to one year of rigorous imprisonment in a criminal conspiracy case.
Verma had allegedly been bribed by Nanda to dilute a report against him and shield him from prosecution in connection with ongoing investigations by CBI and other agencies. The investigations were in connection with defence deals and other related matters.
Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj had on April 2 convicted the three accused persons under criminal conspiracy charges, noting that it has been proved beyond doubt that Verma “diluted the appraisal report to favour” Nanda and his associates at the behest of Shah. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on all three of them.
Verma’s lawyer, PK Dubey, told the court that it is not proved that Verma took illegal gratification. He also submitted that they were incarcerated for 52 days during investigation and have faced rigorous trial for 13 years.
Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta appearing for Nanda told the court that his client had no previous criminal record and attended all his court proceedings. His client also had several health issues, Gupta told the court. It was also submitted that Nanda was a director of several companies in Dubai and his “conviction shall cause prejudice to his business at Dubai”.
Following the sentencing, all three accused applied for bail, which was granted. They can now appeal against the judgment before the Delhi High Court.
As per the prosecution, four suspects were arrested while holding a meeting at Mumbai’s JW Mariott Hotel on March 8, 2008. The CBI had alleged that the accused had “entered into a criminal conspiracy for the purpose of manipulating the report of Income Tax investigation being conducted (by) Ashutosh Verma to show undue favour to Suresh Nanda, by abusing his official position”.
Verma had conducted searches at the premises of Nanda in February 2007 and was preparing an appraisal report on the search and seizure of incriminating documents.
Shah, at the behest of Nanda, had reportedly approached Verma to “to minimise income tax liabilities after obtaining huge illegal gratification from Suresh Nanda and Sanjiv Nanda”, the CBI had submitted.