Claiming to have foiled a conspiracy to bribe public servants for diluting charges in the multi- crore Adarsh Housing Society scam, the CBI today arrested its own lawyer and a former Congress MLC, who is already an accused in the scam.
Four persons - former MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, his son Kailash, CBI counsel Mandar Goswami and tax consultant J K Jagiasi - were arrested in the bribe case and produced before a special CBI court which remanded them in the agency's custody till March 16.
According to CBI, the Gidwanis had paid a bribe of Rs 1.25 crore to Jagiasi, who had flaunted of close links with CBI officers including Goswami, to weaken the charges levelled against them in the Adarsh scam.
A CBI spokesperson in New Delhi said in a written statement alleged that the accused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy and the ex-MLC paid a sum of Rs 1.25 crore to the tax consultant illegally, in a bid to attempt to influence CBI officials in an ongoing investigation of the Adarsh Housing Society Case.
Jagiasi, who used to file Goswami's income tax returns, in turn gave Rs 25 lakh to Goswami, who is empaneled as special counsel in Union Law Ministry.
The CBI stumbled upon the case with the arrest of Jagiasi first on February 20 for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from an Air India official, accused in a CBI case, for dilution of the charges against him. During his questioning, it was learnt that Jagiasi had also approached Gidwani seeking a bribe of Rs 1.25 crore.
"The four accused entered into a criminal conspiracy wherein the accused in the Adarsh scam paid bribe to Jagiasi who in turn gave some of the money to Goswami, who has appeared for CBI in Adarsh matter before the Bombay High Court," special public prosecutor Ejaz Khan and Bharat Badami told the court.
Khan, while seeking the CBI custody of the four accused, further said the bribe amount is yet to be recovered from the accused.
"We need to investigate how the conspiracy was hatched and if the bribe money was paid through hawala channels. There is also a likelihood of involvement of other persons," the senior counsel argued.
Defence lawyers Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Goswami, and Satish Maneshinde, appearing for the Gidwanis, opposed the CBI custody and said there is no requirement for custodial interrogation.
"The Gidwanis are aware that the high court is supervising the investigations. No CBI officer is capable of showing any favour to the accused in the Adarsh scam," Maneshinde had argued.
Mundargi also told the court that Goswami had appeared for CBI in the Adarsh matter before the high court for the first time on February 28.
"Till then some other CBI lawyer was appearing. How is he concerned with the Adarsh scam," the lawyer said.
Special CBI judge A M Kshatriya, however, refused to accept the defence arguments and observed that it was a serious offence and custodial interrogation was required.
"Prima facie allegations are serious especially against accused Mandar Goswami, who is a public servant. Cash is yet to be recovered. The accused are persons who have knowledge of where the money is and hence custodial interrogation is needed," the court observed.
All the four have been booked under section 120 (b) of IPC for criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.