New Delhi: A court here has pulled up CBI for discriminating in matter of arresting the accused, who include former Railway Minister PK Bansal`s nephew, in the Rs 10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery case, saying it was "very disheartening".
The court took strong exception that in the case, in which the probe was being monitored by the CBI Director, two of the ten accused were not arrested despite the charge sheet having been filed against them.
The remarks of the judge came while dismissing the bail pleas of accused CV Venugopal and MV Murali Krishan, who were charge-sheeted by CBI but were not arrested during the probe into the case.
"The submissions that due to paucity of time or due to limited resources they were not able to arrest them reflects poorly on CBI. It is very disheartening since Director, CBI, himself was monitoring the investigation of this case.
"No doubt, CBI has succeeded in filing the charge sheet in time but that does not mean that they will discriminate between the accused persons," Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma said.
The judge also said although CBI had arrested three accused Sameer Sandhir, Rahul Yadav and Sushil Daga, who are in judicial custody, on similar allegations as that of Murali and Venugopal, the agency is unable to explain why these two chargesheeted accused were also not arrested.
"It is, however, very strange that CBI had arrested and sought police custody remand of Sameer Sandhir, Rahul Yadav and Sushil Daga,....But on the other hand is unable to explain properly as to why these two accused persons i.e.- accused CV Venugopal and accused MV Murali Krishan, facing similar allegations, were not arrested during investigation," it said.
Besides Murali, Venugopal, Sandhir, Yadav and Daga, CBI had chargesheeted Bansal`s nephew Vijay Singla, former Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, MD of Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Ltd Narayan Rao Manjunath, alleged middleman Sandeep Goyal and Ajay Garg.
Ajay Garg, who has been accused of being instrumental in fixing the bribe amount for getting a favourable post for Kumar, was granted bail by the court on July 8.
The other nine are accused are in judicial custody till July 24.
The court, in its order dismissing bail pleas of Murali and Venugopal, said although it is the prerogative of CBI or any other investigating agency to arrest or not to arrest an accused, this authority cannot be exercised arbitrarily.
"It is not an isolated case where CBI has chosen to arrest a few accused persons and have closed their eyes towards a few with similar set of allegations," it said, adding "such an unfair approach does not befit the premier investigation agency such as CBI as it certainly shows the discrimination between the accused persons."
It also said such "practice" of CBI should be "deprecated since it conveys wrong signal to the society at large that CBI works at whims and fancies at times and has no set norms or guidelines regarding arrest or non-arrest of a person."
"There have been cases where an individuals with less serious allegations have been arrested whereas individuals with more serious allegations have not been arrested. No doubt, the courts of law are not bound to agree with every contention and act of CBI.
"The courts have vast powers to not only disagree with them on their findings whether to make a person accused whom they have not charge-sheeted and to set free any other whose bail they oppose," it said.
The court also said it is "constrained" to observe that Venugopal and Murali were not arrested by CBI though their role had come to the knowledge of the agency much prior to filing of the charge-sheet.
"At the cost of repetition, it has to be observed that the allegations against the present accused persons are similar in nature and seriousness as against other accused persons who are in judicial custody for more than two months," it said.
CBI, in its charge sheet filed on July 2, has alleged Singla had demanded Rs 10 crore from Mahesh Kumar for his appointment as Member (Electrical).
The agency had said it was decided between the accused that Rs five crore will be paid before the appointment and rest of the money after the job was done.