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Graft case: DRI official freed, CBI pulled up for unfair probe

New Delhi: A special court has pulled up the CBI for “unfair” probe and acting in an “arbitrary and unreasonable manner” against a DRI officer, as it acquitted him of charges of demanding and accepting bribe from an exporter against whom an excise duty evasion case was lodged.

Rakesh Asthana interim CBI Director
Rakesh Asthana interim CBI Director

The court absolved Y S Verma, a former senior intelligence officer with Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and one Mahender Kumar of charges of criminal conspiracy and accepting illegal remuneration and criminal misconduct by public servant.

Special CBI Judge Anu Grover Baliga said there were material contradictions in the depositions of the prosecution’s star witnesses and an audio cassette produced during trial, with the probe agency “absolutely failing” to establish the guilt of the accused.

“The contention of this accused (Verma) and Kumar that the investigation in the present case has been done in a completely unfair manner, appears to have much merit and in view of the material brought on record during trial, this court is constrained to observe that the investigating agency does appear to have acted in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner,” the court said.

The court had in 2012 discharged Verma in the case due to lack of proper sanction to prosecute him. It, however, had given liberty to CBI to file fresh charge sheet after getting the requisite sanction from the competent authority.

Thereafter, CBI obtained sanction to prosecute Verma and the summoned him as accused in January 2013 to face the proceedings in the graft case.

The corruption case against Verma was lodged by CBI on a complaint of Delhi-based exporter A K Aggarwal, who had alleged that the former had lodged a false excise duty evasion case against him and raided his house in September 2005.

It was alleged that Verma contacted Aggarwal’s relative and demanded Rs 50 lakh bribe, on behalf of DRI’s Deputy Director Manish Mani Tiwari, to bail him out of the case.

On Aggarwal’s complaint, CBI laid a trap and allegedly caught Verma red-handed while accepting Rs 5 lakh as the first instalment of the bribe from Aggarwal at the South Delhi house of another co-accused Mahender Kumar.

The court, however, said CBI has failed to explain why the allegations made by the complainant against Tiwari were not “even investigated”.
When the court asked the investigating officer (IO) as to

why he did not array Tiwari as an accused, he said that since Tiwari was not present when the demand, acceptance and recovery of the bribe was made, the material collected during probe was not at all sufficient to make him an accused.

On this, the judge said “in the considered opinion of this court, this IO has made nothing but a mockery of law.

“He first does not investigate the material allegation against Tiwari and then very conveniently cites the lack of evidence against this man to not charge sheet him.”

The court further said that no doubt Verma was allegedly abusing his public office in acting on behalf of Tiwari. But the demand for bribe was principally made by Tiwari.

The investigating agency should have at least investigated the allegations against him to demand bribe from the complainant, the judge observed.



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