The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested on Monday Bad Naran Majhi – a relative of former Jharkhand chief minister Sibu Soren – on charges of corruption related to the 2012 biennial Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand.
Majhi’s daughter Sita Soren, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MLA, is the widowed daughter-in-law of party founder Sibu Soren. She is on bail after surrendering before a special CBI court last year following allegations that she took bribes to cast her vote in favour of an independent candidate.
A team from the Economic Offence Wing of CBI’s Ranchi division arrested Majhi (60) from an apartment in old Bhubaneswar and produced him before the CBI court. The court has allowed the investigating agency a three-day transit remand of the accused to take him to Ranchi.
“I can only confirm that it (the arrest) is correct,” a CBI spokesperson said.
The case dates back to March, 2012 when Jharkhand was to elect two members to the Rajya Sabha. Shortly before the polls, income tax officers found Rs 2.15 crore from a car which allegedly belonged to a relative of independent candidate, RK Agrawal, at Namkum on the outskirts of Ranchi.
The election was countermanded immediately on the recommendation of the Election Commission and fresh voting was held on May 3 for the two seats. Acting on a public interest litigation petition, the Jharkhand High Court had then directed that the investigation into the recovered funds be handed over to the CBI taking note of the allegations of "large scale horse-trading".
The CBI, which is investigating the case, had filed a charge sheet against Sita, her father, her personal assistant Rajendra Mandal, Agarwal and Pawan Dhoot, an industrialist and an independent candidate.
Sita was charged by the CBI with receiving Rs 1.5 crore as bribe from Agarwal, to cast her vote in his favour. Dhoot had also allegedly offered her Rs 2.5 crore for her vote.
She had surrendered before the special CBI court in Ranchi on February 25, 2014 and remained in jail for seven months. She was released on bail granted by the Jharkhand High Court on September 11 last year.
Majhi was charged with influencing the election and managing the money his daughter earned through dubious means. He was absconding since February last year, despite summons and arrest warrants issued by the court.
The CBI has, so far, conducted raids on the premises of over 20 MLAs and a former member of the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand to obtain evidence.
Earlier, Majhi had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 assembly elections as an independent from Rairangpur reserved constituency in Odisha and had openly campaigned for two months despite having an arrest warrant pending against him. The CBI had failed to arrest him during the elections.
(With inputs from Bedanti Saran in Ranchi)