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Court seeks report on RS polls probe

Ranchi, Jan. 11: Jharkhand High Court today directed the CBI to file a status report on its investigation into allegations of horse-trading in the countermanded Rajya Sabha elections on March 30, 2012.

The court, while hearing a petition filed by Jharkhand Against Corruption, a social outfit floated by tribal vigilante Durga Oraon, also asked the director-general of police to provide adequate security to the witnesses in the case.

The case will again be taken up on January 22.

Oraon had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking proper security to Vivek Pandey, a key witness to episode involving JMM legislator Sita Soren.

Pandey, a former personal assistant of Sita Soren who was made a witness by CBI, was allegedly abducted and thrashed by the Jama MLA and her henchmen in Ranchi on December 24 last. Policemen brought Pandey from the residence of the MLA, who is also the daughter-in-law of JMM supremo Shibu Soren, after the CBI intervened.

Oraon, in his petition, said the matter involved public interest as political representatives were selling votes for money.

The cash-for-vote allegations surfaced during the biennial elections last year when Namkum police recovered Rs 2.15 crore in cash from a car belonging to a relative of R. K. Agrawal, an Independent candidate, right before the March 30 election which was later postponed.

Following a PIL filed by Oraon, the high court then directed the CBI to take up investigations to which chief minister Arjun Munda had also given his consent.

The CBI sleuths raided 18 places in Ranchi, Dumka, Godda in the state, besides Calcutta, Odisha and Delhi. Among several names under the scanner where those of Pawan Kumar Dhoot, an Independent candidate for the polls, Bandhu Tirkey, Chamra Linda and Sita Soren.

The agency seized bank passbooks belonging to Sita Soren and also came across a fixed deposit for Rs 40 lakh at the residence of her father Budh Narain Manjhi at Jharsuguda in Odisha.

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