NALCO bribe case: CBI custody of Bhatia extended till March 10
A Delhi court on Saturday allowed the CBI to interrogate a senior official of a private firm Ratan Pal Singh Bhatia, arrested for allegedly bribing suspended NALCO CMD Abhay Srivastava, in its custody till March 10,saying the case reflected a "deep-rooted conspiracy".
"The facts of the case reveal a deep-rooted conspiracy between the accused persons regarding bribing a top ranking public servant. Accordingly, I am satisfied that the prayer for extension of police custody remand for accused Bhatia is justified," special CBI Judge O P Saini said while extending Bhatia's CBI custody.
Bhatia, an executive of Bhatia Group of Industries who had allegedly paid Rs 20 lakh bribe to 'middleman' Bhushan Lal Bajaj for delivery to Srivastava, was arrested by the CBI on February 28.
The CBI submitted before the court that he entire call details of the recorded conversation between Bhatia and Bajaj for balance payment of Rs 40 lakh could not be obtained from the service provider but it is likely to get the information shortly.
"CMD of Bhatia Group of Industries G S Bhatia and its Director (Marketing) Jaswinder Singh have not joined investigation till date and are expected to join the probe either today of tomorrow. The accused is required to be confronted with these two," CBI prosecutor Akhilesh said.
It added the accused was evasive in his replies during his custodial interrogation.
Defence counsel Rahul Mehra opposed the CBI's plea saying the probe agency had not done anything during the five days in which his client was in its custody.
Mehra expressed apprehension that Bhatia might be tortured to make a "confession" during his custodial interrogation.
The court, however, rejected his submissions. "As far as the plea that accused may be tortured in police custody is concerned, the same is unfounded as the police officials are expected to carry out investigation as per law".
The CBI had alleged that Bhatia Group of Industries had paid a huge bribe amount to Srivastava through Bajaj and Ratan Pal Singh Bhatia had paid the first instalment of bribe amount of Rs 20 lakh to Bajaj.
Ratan Pal Bhatia was the fifth person to be arrested in this case.
NALCO CMD A K Srivastava and B L Bajaj are currently in CBI custody till March 8.
Srivastava's wife Chandani Srivastava, Bajaj and his spouse Anita Bajaj were arrested by the CBI on February 25 following a tip-off. The agency allegedly recovered about 10 kgs of gold bricks and jewellery valued at around Rs 2.13 crores as also Rs 30 lakh in cash from their possession.
Anita and Chandani are in judicial custody till March 15.