The arrest of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda by the Enforcement Directorate is "imminent" as the evidence against him for allegedly carrying out hawala transactions and illegal investments worth crores of rupees "is satisfying", ED sources said in Delhi on Thursday.
They said the documentary proofs and subsequent leads found against Koda and his associates will culminate in his arrest soon after his discharge from a hospital in Ranchi. "It is (Koda's arrest) imminent. The evidence is satisfying," the sources said.
The ED sources said that the information obtained from the seized documents and affidavits will have to be put across to Koda for further progress in the case, which can only happen after detailed questioning.
"Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the arrest takes place under section 19. Authorities from both Income Tax department and the ED are waiting for the medical reports of Koda and his subsequent discharge from the hospital," they said.
Meanwhile, the IT department officials are still carrying out the sealing exercises on the properties of Koda and his associates. The searches had begun on October 31.
The ED is also preparing to send notices for production of documents and attendance in person against certain other associates of the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, they said.
Both the departments (IT and ED) will also initiate the proceedings for attachment of properties soon. Earlier the ED had served summons to Koda and his associates, for questioning them on alleged hawala transactions and investments.
Both the departments have started scrutiny of the documents related to alleged hawala transactions and investments running into more than Rs 2,000 crore by Koda and his associates.
The ED had filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (equivalent to an FIR) before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Ranchi against the former CM, his cabinet colleagues Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Bhandu Tirkey besides five others.
In a separate development, the Jharkhand High Court on Thursday directed the state to produce a progress report on November 12 on the vigilance probe into the disproportionate assets case against Madhu Koda and some of his former cabinet colleagues.
The two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra was hearing a PIL filed by petitioner Durga Oraon in November 2008 seeking a CBI probe into the assets of Koda and several of his former cabinet colleagues.
The PIL alleged that former ministers Bandhu Tirkey, Chandraprakash Choudhary, Kamlesh Singh, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai had multiplied their wealth during their ministerial term.
Later, Koda and his alleged aides Vinod Kumar Sinha and Sanjay Choudhary were made parties through interlocutory application in the DA case.
On an earlier hearing, the bench had directed the I-T department to furnish relevant documents including I-T returns filed by the former ministers in connection with the DA case.
Ekka and Rai are currently in judicial custody after they surrendered before a special vigilance court in September.
On October 5, the Vigilance Department had filed charge sheet against Ekka and Rai against whom petitioner Kumar Vinod filed a PIL with the vigilance court accusing them of amassing assets running into crores of rupees between April, 2005 and September 2008.
The Koda issue figured in Supreme Court on Friday, and Justice Markandeya Katju asked CBI to catch the big fish involved in the scam.
The court wryly suggested CBI to go after big fish rather than small ones. The remarks made in a ligher vein by Justice Markandeya Katju sent the packed court hall into peals of laughter.
"Bhai pakadna hai to badey machli kho pakdo, Madhu Koda Chaar Hazar Karod! (smile). Chhote log ko pakad kar kyon unko barbaad kartey ho, (If you want to catch, catch the big fish. Why destroy small fries by arresting them?)" Justice Katju told Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam appearing for CBI.
The remarks came when the judge was considering a plea plea by accused Ganapathi Ramnath, former General Manager of the public sector HPCL allegedly involved in the infamous Rs 450-crore Bihar bitumen scam of early 1990s in which several ministers were allegedly involved, to quash the case against him.
The bench dismissed the plea. Senior counsel Harish Salve and counsel Shishir Pinaki, appearing for the accused, claimed the 72-year old ex-official retired 13 years ago and it would be inhuman to make him stand trial for a conspiracy in which he was falsely implicated.
It was pleaded that Ramnath was now staying in Chennai and it would not be proper for him to go to Patna to face the trial.
Vikas Sinha has been arrested," Deputy Director, ED Prabha Kant, told newsmen in Ranchi. "He is being questioned in connection with the alleged hawala and illegal investments amounting to over Rs 2000 crore," said a senior IT official.
The IT official also said a couple of other persons were also being questioned, including Koda's personal assistant Harendra.
Sinha, who was arrested when he appeared before the ED, is the first associate of Koda to be taken into custody by the Directorate, among the eight people who were summoned for questioning in the multi-crore scam.
The ED and the IT officials were, however, awaiting the appearance of Binod Kumar Sinha and Sanjay Choudhary, who were summoned by the IT to present themselves by 11:00 am on Friday to explain certain transactions.
The IT had on November 2 served notices on them to appear before the Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation) in connection with the continuing searches and seizure operations at seventy places in nine cities across the country since Saturday. PTI