The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 6 , 2014
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Apex court’s relief for Agrawal

Ranchi, May 5: Jamshedpur industrialist R.K. Agrawal, who has been in Birsa Munda Central Jail for a year now, was today granted bail by the Supreme Court in the 2012 Rajya Sabha polls horse-trading case.

A prime accused in the cash-for-vote scam involving six others, including JMM MLA and chief minister’s sister-in-law Sita Soren, will be released once he produces papers concerning his bail granted by a double bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and F.M.I. Kalifulla.

“We have been informed about the Supreme Court’s decision. I am not aware about the conditions placed before the apex court for securing Agrawal’s release as we are awaiting a copy of the order,” CBI DSP and investigating officer A.K. Jha told The Telegraph.

Earlier, the CBI successfully opposed Agrawal’s bail plea right from the lower court to the Supreme Court on the ground that the accused was highly resourceful, both politically and economically, and could influence witnesses. Sources, however, said that this time, Agrawal got the reprieve after contesting that the CBI had filed a chargesheet against him last year while charges were framed this year.

Hence, he was being unnecessarily kept in judicial confinement even though the legal processes were over.

The businessman, who owns Hi-Tech Industries Pvt Ltd, a chemical manufacturing firm, had contested the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections as an Independent. 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 relative of Agrawal on March 30, the day of the polling.

The cash, which was eventually linked to Agrawal, was allegedly meant to buy votes of MLAs like Sita.

Later, Jharkhand High Court ordered a CBI probe into the case. The central agency arrested Agrawal on May 14 last year.

Of the other accused, Sita surrendered before the CBI court of R.K. Choudhary this year followed by her close aide Rajendra Mandal. Her father B.N. Manjhi, a co-accused, is absconding whereas two others — another industrialist and Independent candidate Pawan Kumar Dhoot and his polling agent Sunil Kumar Maheshwari — are on bail.

Except Manjhi, charges have been framed against all others.

But the investigating circle is abuzz with talks of the CBI adopting double standards in its treatment towards Agrawal and Dhoot.

Many pointed out that while the agency slapped sections under the stringent Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against the Jamshedpur businessman after he obtained bail after surrendering at a lower court on April 10 last year, they did not follow the same practice in Dhoot’s case.

State CBI officers, however, argued that they had twice sent proposals to their central headquarters to invoke provisions under the PCA against Dhoot. But on both occasions, the plea was shot down on the ground that no direct evidence of paying bribes to MLAs could be found against Dhoot.