A Delhi court on Tuesday remanded Company Law Board member R Vasudevan and a company secretary of a leading media house Manoj Banthia to six days of police custody after they were arrested in connection with a graft case to the tune of Rs seven lakh.
'Huge amount of cash of Rs 55 lakh, including the alleged bribe amount of Rs 7 lakh, has been recovered from the house of accused R Vasudevan. Prayer seeking their custodial interrogation is allowed," Special CBI Judge O P Saini said.
Allowing the probe agency to quiz the accused for six days, the court asked it to allow defence lawyers to meet them once daily for half an hour.
Vasudevan allegedly received illegal gratification of Rs 7 lakh at his residence from Banthia for passing a favourable order in a petition involving a leading vernacular daily, CBI said.
Opposing CBI's plea, the counsel, appearing for 58-year-old Vasudevan, said "Somebody should not be condemned without being heard. Moreover, if this happens to a judicial officer, the judiciary will not be able to function."
CBI has registered a case under different sections of IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act and carried out searches at seven locations in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai during which incriminating documents were recovered. The accused were arrested on Monday night.
Defence counsel said Vasudevan had recently undergone a cardiac bypass surgery and his custodial interrogation was uncalled for.
"I am willing to cooperate and would account for the alleged recovered money," the counsel said, adding that no favourable order, whatsoever, has been passed in the matter in question.
Countering the allegations, the CBI prosecutor said the accused was a judicial officer and no such person can justify the recovery of Rs 55 lakh that too from his residence.
Vasudevan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, and Banthia, from Kolkata, are required to be taken to their respective native places to unearth the case, CBI said.
The agency hinted that the role of a prominent lawyer in the case was also under the scanner. Banthia was arrested while he was emerging from the house of Vasudevan after paying the illegal gratification.
The searches were conducted subsequently, it said. Banthia's counsel said "whatever was to to recovered has already been recovered and the custodial interrogation of his client was not required."
Rejecting the plea, the court said the case was of serious nature and thorough probe was needed.
Meanwhile, the investigation by R Vasudevan, member of Company Law Board, into the multi-crore Satyam case has come under cloud following his arrest on graft charges by CBI.
The authorities are planning to have a re-look into Vasudevan's probe into the biggest corporate scam of the country, official sources said. Vasudevan, Regional Director of CLB in Chennai was overseeing the probe in Satyam case following the superannuation of the Board Chairman Balasubramanian.
Doubts have been raised over his probe into the case after he was caught red-handed while accepting bribe of Rs seven lakh for delivering a favourable decision, they said.
The CBI on Tuesday registered a case against Vasudevan, Company Secretary Manoj Bhanthia and Advocate Ankur Chawla for criminal conspiracy and various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, sources said.
Lawyer Ankur Chawla, named in the FIR by CBI in the graft case, on Tuesday said he would cooperate with all the agencies in the investigation because he has nothing to hide.
In a statement, he said he has been outside India since yesterday and has come to know that his name has been "dragged unnecessarily" in the case.
"As I have been out of India since yesterday, I have no idea about. I will fully cooperate with all the agencies in case they want my assistance to find out the truth because I have nothing to hide", he said. PTI