Kalmadi sent to eight days in police custody

Updated: Apr 27, 2011, 00:31 AM IST

New Delhi: It is eight more nights in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lockup for India`s high profile MP and sports administrator Suresh Kalmadi with a court Tuesday sending him to police custody till May 4 on charges of irregularities in awarding contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Hours after Kalmadi was sent to police custody, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced that its senior vice president Vijay Kumar Malhotra will be the "officiating president" in the "long absence of president." Kalmadi was heading the association for 15 years.

However, Kalmadi will not be eligible to seek bail before 90 days with the CBI Tuesday adding charges of forgery in its FIR against him and two other CWG officials arrested Monday.

The 66-year-old Kalmadi, who spent the night in the CBI lockup, got an unusual welcome when he entered the Patiala House court complex when a man from among the crowd of onlookers broke through the security and hurdled a slipper, which hit Kalmadi. An unfazed Kalmadi walked on.

While sending him to police custody, Additional District Judge Talwant Singh said Kalmadi "would be medically examined after every 48 hours and could also meet relatives and counsellors every day for 40 minutes".

"Keeping in view the gravity of the offence committed by the accused person, I am of the opinion that the accused be remanded to CBI custody till May 4. After the end of their custody, they will be presented before special judge Dharmesh Sharma," the judge said.

According to the CBI, Kalmadi has been arrested for buying TSR (timing scoring and result) equipment from a Swiss firm, Swiss Timing, at inflated price of Rs.141 crore for the event.

Also arrested for alleged criminal conspiracy and overspending of public money in holding the Oct 3-14 Games last year were two more officials of the Games panel, Sujit Lal and A.S.V. Prasad.

The CBI in its FIR Tuesday filed additional charges of forgery under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the three, as well as Lalit Bhanot, a former secretary general of CWG, and V.K. Verma, who was its director general.

They were also booked them for criminal conspiracy and cheating.

Bhanot and Verma, arrested Feb 23, completed their 60 days in custody and were eligible to apply for bail. However, with the slapping of the new charges, Kalmadi will not be eligible to seek bail before 90 days, while Bhanot and Verma will now have to wait for another 30 days.

The CBI has 90 days to file the chargesheet.

The three additional charges added in the FIR, originally filed in November last year, include sections 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of the Indian Penal Code.

Addressing the court, packed with people who had to be told to move back so that proceedings could begin, the public prosecutor sought 14 days police custody and said Kalmadi`s behaviour was "evasive and non-cooperative".

He was not "revealing the true facts and circumstances of the criminal conspiracy which led to award of TSR contract to swiss timing in a wrongful manner", V.K. Sharma said.

The CBI said custody was required as "voluminous incriminating documents" had been recovered.

As Kalmadi, dressed in a white t-shirt and khaki trousers, listened attentively during the two hour-long proceedings, defence counsel Hitesh Jain argued: "If Kalmadi was not cooperating with the agency, then why did it not arrest him six months back when the preliminary investigation was being done?"

It was a dramatic fall from the echelons of power for Kalmadi, who was also the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president and the man trusted with the holding of the prestigious Commonwealth Games.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was unimpressed with the action against Kalmadi and said it was an eyewash.

Addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh`s Faizabad district, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said it was a Rs.70,000 crore scam and all those behind it must be arrested.

BJP leader Vijay Goel asked for Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit`s resignation.

Stating that they would "come out clean", Dikshit said Kalmadi`s arrest was justifiable as there would have been "some basis" to arrest him.

There are now 13 past and present Organising Committee officials who have been arrested. Besides Bhanot and Verma, the others are T.S. Darbari, Sanjay Mohindroo, M. Jayachandran, Shekhar Deorukhkar, K. Udai Kumar Reddy, Binu Nanu, Sandeep Wadhwa and Praveen Bakshi.

Kalmadi, who smiled at the large number of media persons gathered at the spot, looked shaken when the judge announced the eight-day CBI custody for him.

Bureau Report