The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After scam, sleaze

New Delhi, May 12: The CBI has now turned its attention on a hint of “sleaze” in the Delhi Development Authority land scam.

On May 9, bureau sleuths searched Narender Malhotra’s home at E-76, East of Kailash in south Delhi. He is alleged to have supplied prostitutes to Dharambir Khattar, the alleged middleman in the land scam.

Two mobile phones — one of Malhotra’s and the other his wife Ritu Asthana’s — telephone diaries, two passports, and some registers were seized.

The registers contained names of clients and the amounts accepted or due from them. A couple of scribbled entries read: “Avantika 8/9 Khattar Saheb” and “2/10 Khattar Rs 5,000”.

According to sources, the entries indicate that Khattar was using Malhotra’s services to supply prostitutes to bureaucrats and other high-profile clients.

Malhotra is said to be an important link in the “wine and women” racket the CBI stumbled upon during investigations into the land scam. After filing an application for return of the seized documents for further investigation, the CBI today got back their possession in special judge Prem Kumar’s court.

The CBI has already questioned Malhotra on his alleged links with Khattar, who has sought the court’s permission to undergo heart surgery at Escorts Hospital, Delhi. Former Delhi High Court judge Shamit Mukherjee, an accused in a related land scam case, was today released on a one-month interim bail as the CBI did not seek extension of his custody.

Mukherjee is accused of giving a judgment favouring hotelier Vinod Khatri, owner of Sahara Restaurant in south Delhi.

The bail, granted by the high court earlier, was to come into effect on the expiry of Mukherjee’s CBI custody, which happened today.

Kumar today ordered “he be released forthwith” after Mukherjee deposited personal bond and surety of Rs 50,000 each — a condition the high court had set for granting bail so he could tend to his ill wife, confined to bed.

Kumar directed the disgraced judge to surrender before the court after his interim bail gets over on June 12.

Mukherjee was arrested on April 30, a day after the CBI registered an FIR accusing him of giving a judgment favouring Khatri in a case of encroachment on a south Delhi road.

Khatri, another accused in the land scam case, will be in CBI custody till May 14.

Remanded in CBI custody till May 7, Mukherjee was granted interim bail by the high court two days before the custody period got over.

The CBI, however, managed to obtain a breather after the Supreme Court left it to the trial court to decide on extending Mukherjee’s remand.

The former judge was booked for alleged abuse of official position by entering into a criminal conspiracy.

The other accused include Khattar, Khatri, authority vice-chairman Subhash Sharma and suspended employee Ashok Kapoor.

Sharma, present in court today, was remanded in judicial custody till May 19, when his bail application will be heard. Forensic experts collected samples of his voice and handwriting.

The special judge directed the CBI to produce all relevant documents and the case diary in Mukherjee’s case on May 19.

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