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HC prod on RS probe

Ranchi, Jan. 22: Jharkhand High Court today directed CBI to furnish a status report on investigations into the alleged use of money to lure MLAs during the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy was hearing a petition filed by Jharkhand Against Corruption, a social organisation floated by tribal activist Durga Oraon who had sought a CBI probe after a vehicle loaded with Rs 2.15 crore in cash was seized by the police on the day of voting in the biennial polls.

CBI DIG S. K. Bhagat and DSP A. K. Jha, who were present in court, informed the bench that investigation was going on in full swing. Investigating officer A. K. Jha said the probe against MLAs was now on hold as the Speakerís sanction was yet to come in.

The case will be taken up for hearing on February 19.

Oraon also filed an affidavit, informing the high court that Vishal Pandey, former personal assistant of JMM MLA Sita Soren was abducted by her goons on December 24. Pandeyís wife Reena Devi had filed an FIR.

Pandey himself had made frantic calls to SSP Saket Kumar Singh but there was no response from the police. Later, the police managed to trace him, after which Oraon sought protection for him as he was a key witness in the alleged deals struck by Sita Soren before the Rajya Sabha elections.

Last year, the March 30 Rajya Sabha polls had to be countermanded after the money was found in the car linked to Jamshedpur-based businessman R. K. Agrawal, who was a candidate.

Voting was held later on May 3 and the JMMís Sanjeev Kumar and the Congressís Pradeep kumar Balmuchu were elected to the upper House.

After the CBI was entrusted with the case, it conducted a series of raids all over the country, looking for possible money trails leading to Jharkhand MLAs. Subsequently, the agency seized bank passbooks and FD receipts from the residence of Sita Soren in Ranchi and her father Budh Narain Manjhi at Jharsuguda in Odisha.