CBI opposes Kejriwal’s former aide’s bail, Rajendra Kumar says he poses no threat to witnesses

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CBI on Saturday opposed the bail plea of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s ex-Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar before a special court alleging there were continuous efforts to threaten witnesses in the graft case.

“We have evidence that even till today, they (accused) are threatening the witnesses… Kumar’s presence outside will create intimidating atmosphere for witnesses,” the agency told Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar who has reserved order on his bail plea for 25 July.

CBI claimed that if granted bail at this stage, Kumar “may tamper with evidence. The money trail is still needed to be probed and the investigation is at its crucial stage.”

Regarding the alleged threat to the witnesses, the CBI claimed that it has received complaint in this regard. During the arguments, senior advocate Mohit Mathur, who appeared for Kumar, said that his client should be granted the relief as he was not required for further probe and recoveries have already been made by the CBI.

“My client’s medical condition is such that he should be granted bail. Also, he is required to be present with his daughter to take care of her as she is seriously ill at the moment,” the counsel said, while denying threat to witnesses.

Meanwhile, another accused in this case, Tarun Sharma, former Deputy Secretary in Kejriwal’s office, today approached the court seeking bail which will be heard on on 29 July.

The court has already sought response from the CBI by Monday on the bail applications of Kumar’s close aide Ashok Kumar and Managing Director of a PSU, R S Kaushik. Besides the four accused, CBI had also arrested owners of a private firm Endeavour Systems Pvt Ltd (ESPL), Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Kumar Gupta and Kaushik’s predecessor G K Nanda, former Managing Director of Intelligent Communication Systems India Ltd (ICSIL), a Delhi government undertaking.

According to CBI, the five accused were allegedly showing undue favours to private firm ESPL which the agency alleged was floated by Kumar for the award of government contracts worth over Rs 50 crore. CBI had registered a case against Kumar and others in December last year alleging that the officer had abused his official position by “favouring a particular firm in the last few years in getting tenders of Delhi government departments”.

During the hearing, Kumar’s counsel said “a lot of people are coming forward to the CBI in this case which means there is no threat by Kumar.”

“It seems that witnesses are not being trusted by the CBI itself and the agency itself wants to threaten witnesses. If for several months I (Kumar) was keeping a watch on the witnesses, as per CBI’s allegations, they could have arrested me earlier,” Kumar’s counsel said.

He also alleged that Kumar or his family members had no connection with the formation of the ESPL and neither he was involved in any conspiracy in the case. The CBI, however, countered Kumar’s submission and said that he was involved in conversation with other accused persons and it had audio recordings to prove this.

“He should not be granted bail as the circumstances are peculiar in this case. Even after the suspension, he is capable to influence the investigation,” CBI said.

At the point of peculiarity of the case, Kumar’s counsel remarked, “this is really a peculiar case where two authorities (MHA and Delhi government) are suspending one person. I (Kumar) am not sure whose employee I am.”

The accused have been charged under section 120-B of IPC (criminal conspiracy) and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act relating to criminal misconduct for allegedly favouring ESPL in bagging of five contracts.

CBI has alleged that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy and caused a loss of Rs 12 crore to the Delhi government in award of contracts between 2007 and 2015, and claimed that the officials had taken “undue benefit” of over Rs three crore while awarding the contracts.

This is the same case in which the agency had come under scathing criticism from court which had directed it to return the documents sought by the Delhi government seized during December 15, 2015 search of Kejriwal’s office. The arrest of the top state government official had triggered a political storm with the Delhi government accusing the Centre of indulging in “political vendetta” and “paralysing” governance.

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