Mahesh Kumar, member (staff) railway board, arrested for his alleged role in the Rs.10-crore bribery case in which Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's nephew is also an accused, was on Monday remanded to three-day CBI custody by a Delhi court.
Kumar was produced before Special Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma, who remanded him to CBI custody till May 9, after the agency said he is the main accused in the case and his custodial interrogation was required to unearth the entire conspiracy.
The CBI had sought five-day police custody of Kumar, saying he is the one for whom the entire arrangement was being made.
Besides Kumar, the CBI has arrested Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla and six others for their alleged roles in the bribery case, in which a deal of Rs 10 crore was finalised between them for fixing a top-level position for Kumar in the railway board.
"The investigation is at an initial stage and Mahesh Kumar is evasive in his answers and is not cooperating. He is not giving us proper replies to the questions being asked," CBI prosecutor Akshay Gautam told the court.
The CBI also said they have to arrest two more accused in the case. Kumar was arrested from Mumbai and was brought here on transit remand.
Kumar, who was general manager (west) Railways, had been recently promoted as member (staff) in the railway board and was allegedly trying to get himself posted as member (electrical).
The CBI's plea for Kumar's custody remand was opposed by his counsel who said he is fully cooperating with the agency and if he is being asked about something which he does not know, how will he answer it. The counsel also said 58-year-old Kumar is sick and is suffering from chronic diseases like hypertension and high cholesterol. He also said that Kumar is in custody since last three days and court should not grant further CBI custody.
The defence counsel also prayed for home-cooked food for Kumar but the prayer was not granted by the court. The court said, "Law does not permit for home cooked food when the accused is in police custody. We (court or CBI) cannot taste the food every time and what if something happens to him in police custody after consuming that food. Then the blame would be put on the CBI," the judge said, adding that she will ask the CBI to provide him boiled food as per his medical requirements.
The court had on May 4 remanded Singla and three others, Sandip Goyal, Dharmendra Kumar and Vivek Kumar, to the CBI custody till May 7 after the agency said it was necessary to find out the "actual beneficiaries" and other conspirators who were involved in the bribery case.
Other three accused -- Narain Rao Manjunath, managing director of G G Tronics India Pvt Ltd and two others -- Samir Sandhir and Rahul Yadav -- were also remanded in the CBI custody till May 7.
The agency had said that it had received information that Manjunath was in regular contact with accused Mahesh Kumar who was trying to get himself appointed to a more lucrative post in the railway board as member (electrical).
The CBI had said Manjunath and Mahesh Kumar were also in regular touch with businessman Goyal for this purpose. Goyal had assured Kumar that he will get him posted as member (electrical) in the railway board in exchange for "pecuniary gratification."
The CBI has named eight accused persons in the FIR for the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.
Manjunath was arrested from Bangalore and according to the CBI, he was the "main financier". Rahul and Samir were arrested from Delhi.
Regarding the conspiracy, the CBI had said that out of the total deal amount of Rs 10 crore, a part payment was made of of Rs 90 lakh, which was allegedly managed by accused Vivek Kumar.
The CBI is interrogating the accused persons to find out the source of bribe amount and also from where did Singla get Rs 89.68 lakh, which has been recovered.
The agency had said the first tranche of Rs 90 lakh was given to Singla who was apprehended while accepting the money. It had said Goyal had informed Mahesh Kumar and Manjunath that the present chairman of the railway board was to retire in June this year and then the present member (electrical) Kulbhushan will be posted as the chairman of the board.
Goyal had said he would then manage to get Mahesh Kumar appointed as member (electrical) through "his contacts in the railway ministry" and had demanded Rs 10 crore for this work, it had said.
The agency had also said it was decided among the accused that Rs 5 crore will be paid before appointment and the rest of the money will be paid after the Mahesh Kumar's appointment as member (electrical). It had said Kumar had decided to take Rs 2 crore from Manjunath and other businessmen for making payment to Goyal with a promise that he will help them in future since they were dealing with Railways as suppliers.
Image: Mahesh Kumar