RK Agrawal (right) comes out of the CBI court in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Feb. 14: A special CBI court today framed charges against Jamshedpur-based industrialist R.K. Agrawal and two others in the 2012 Rajya Sabha cash-stash case while rejecting his plea for more time.
CBI judge R.K. Choudhary slapped sections 120B and 171E of the IPC and sections 13(2) and 13(1)(D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on Agrawal for allegedly paying crores of rupees to legislators in lieu of their votes.
However, the two others, Calcutta-based realtor Pawan Kumar Dhoot and his election agent Sunil Kumar Maheshwari, were booked under two less stringent IPC sections — 120B and 171E (bailable), in the absence of any direct evidence of bribing MLAs against them.
The court fixed March 21 as the next date of hearing.
“The charges have been framed. Now, we will pray the court to record statements of witnesses,” CBI lawyer Sanjeev Yadav said after the hearing.
Earlier, Agrawal through his lawyer Vidyut Chaurasia moved a petition before the CBI court, seeking more time on the ground that he was yet to hear on his discharge petition before Jharkhand High Court.
CBI judge Choudhary, however, turned down Agrawal’s contention, saying the legal process should not be delayed. “If the high court gives its decision in your favour, you will be automatically discharged from all charges,” the CBI judge explained.
Agrawal and Dhoot had contested the Rajya Sabha elections as Independents in 2012. The poll was countermanded after the income tax department and Ranchi police, in a joint operation, seized Rs 2.15 crore from an SUV belonging to a close relative of Agrawal on March 30, the day of the polling.
The central agency arrested Agrawal, the main accused in the horse-trading scam, on May 14 last year. He has been in judicial custody since then. However, Dhoot and his aide are out on bail.
There are three other accused in the high-profile case — JMM bahu Sita, her father B.N. Manjhi (a former official of Indian Oil Corporation based in Bhubaneswar), and her close aide Rajendra Mandal (son of former JMM MP Suraj Mandal).
But, ever since her anticipatory bail petition was rejected by the CBI court last year, the daughter-in-law of JMM patriarch Shibu Soren has been absconding.
Reacting to today’s court proceedings, Agrawal said, “I am facing wrong charges. I have faith in the court and judiciary, I will get the justice.”
Dhoot did not comment.