Nine days after their arrest in a cross-country housing loan scam, a special CBI court on Friday granted bail to all the eight accused, including LIC Housing Finance CEO Ramchandran Nair, after observing that their custody is not required further.
The investigation agency had on November 24 arrested Nair, Naresh Chopra, secretary (investment) LIC; R N Tayal, general manager of Bank of India (Delhi); Maninder Singh Johar, director of Central Bank of India; Venkoba Gujjal, deputy GM of Punjab National Bank (Delhi) in connection with the bribe-for-loan scam.
Rajesh Sharma, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-based firm Money Matters Ltd and two of its employees -- Suresh Gattani and Sanjay Sharma-- were also arrested.
The eight were produced before the court on Friday which first remanded them in judicial custody after the CBI did not seek for further custody. After being remanded in judicial custody, all the accused sought for bail.
While granting them bail on a surety of Rs 200,000 each, special CBI judge S P Tavade observed that their custody is not required further. The court has however directed the accused to not tamper with the evidence or leave the country.
All the eight accused would be taken to Arthur Road jail and released from there once the procedures are done.
CBI counsel Ejaz Khan, however, sought permission from the court to seek custody of Rajesh, Sanjay and Suresh in other cases.
"CBI had filed five cases in this scam. While Rajesh was shown as arrested in only two cases, Sanjay and Suresh were arrested only in one case. Tomorrow once they are out on bail, we would approach the court seeking custody of the trio again," Khan said.
While opposing the bail plea of the trio, Khan had argued that they are habitual offenders who had bribed high ranking officials from LIC and other banks as a kick back for loans for 21 private companies.
"Investigation is still at a crucial stage. If released on bail the accused would tamper the evidence. CBI while conducting searches at Suresh's house had recovered diary noting of investment deals of Adani group," the counsel said.
Senior lawyer Harshad Ponda, appearing for Rajesh, argued, "Applying for loan is a legal right and Rajesh has followed proper procedure before loans for his client companies were sanctioned."
CBI has already collected all relevant documents from the beneficiary companies and material seized from all the accused's house and office and hence there is no need for further custody, all the defence lawyers argued.
Image: (Inset) R R Nair. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com