The CBI's prime witness in the Tehelka cases Mathew Samuel has declined to appear before the special court for deposition unless he is reimbursed for the expenses he incurred by him for his court appearances.
"I had asked for a payment of the actual flight fair from the place of departure to New Delhi and Rs 10,000 as ancillary expenses. I am working for a media organisation in Goa. I appeared before the court today (Monday). I have told the judge that unless I am paid Rs 5,000 plus airfare I am unwilling to appear before the court," said Samuel told HT.
Samuel, along with another Tehelka reporter Anirudha Bahal, had conducted a sting operation in 2001, wherein they paid money to politicians and bureaucrats and army officials for a fake defence deals.
Now, Samuel is the prime witness in four cases registered by the CBI on the basis of the Tehelka sting operation against four people. To a great extent, these cases depend on his testimony.
According to CBI sources, as per the government rules Samuel can only be paid Rs 275 per appearance and this includes R50 for lunch expenses. The court has already explained this to him and supplied him with a copy of rules as well. "In the past, Samuel has even declined to accept his bailable warrant," said an exasperated CBI official.
The CBI will now revert to court on July 12 with its view on the Samuel's demand.
But Samuel said the CBI has to make an exception in his case. So far he has appeared before special CBI courts, the central vigilance commission, Justice Venkatswami commission of inquiry, CBI investigators and in the court-martial proceedings against the army officers.
"Under the rules I am given Rs 250 per appearance and Rs 25 for the lunch... What am I supposed to do with this amount? I am ready to go to jail if I am not reimbursed," Samuel said.