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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

MP High Court tells govt not to shift officer probing extortion scandal

The special investigation team (SIT) formed last month to probe an alleged extortion racket in Madhya Pradesh that targeted high-profile people, has already had three chiefs.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2019 01:34 IST
Ranjan
Ranjan
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
One of the accused of the gang of extortionists being produced in a Bhopal court in September.
One of the accused of the gang of extortionists being produced in a Bhopal court in September.(PTI)
         

Taking a serious note of frequent changes of chiefs of the special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe an alleged extortion racket in Madhya Pradesh that targeted high-profile people, the high court on Monday directed the state government not to change the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the case and get the electronic evidence examined by the forensic science laboratory in Hyderabad.

An IPS officer Awadhesh Goswami is the OIC in the case. The present SIT chief is Rajendra Kumar. He replaced Sanjeev Shami on October 1. Earlier, Shami had replaced D Srinivas Rao.

The order of the Indore bench of the court came on a petition filed by an Indore-based advocate Manohar Dalal.

In its order, a division bench consisting of justice SC Sharma and justice Shailendra Shukla said, “The various order-sheets have been received in sealed cover and the SIT chief has also filed a status report again in sealed cover. However, it does not contain the material on the basis of which the SIT chiefs were changed so frequently.”

The court said the complete documents had also not been produced as directed by it. ”Therefore, 15 days further time is granted to produce the entire material before this court again in sealed cover and a proper reply be also filed to the writ petition within the aforesaid period as well as a status report by the SIT chief.”

The court directed the state government not to change the OIC of the case and not to change his posting from Indore without leave of the court.

The court also observed, “In the present case, the entire evidence is basically electronic evidence and the evidence requires investigation and expert report.”

The court directed the OIC to forward the entire electronic evidence and obtain a report in respect with it from the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad.

“He shall personally monitor the same”, directed the court.

The names of several politicians and bureaucrats are doing the rounds as targets of the extortion racket that operated from Bhopal and had its network in at least three states. Six of its members including five women were arrested on September 18 and 19 from Indore and Bhopal on an FIR lodged by an Indore Municipal Corporation engineer who was allegedly honey trapped by the gang.