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India Remand Of Punjab Chief Parliamentary Secy Extended

Jan 1, 2010
A special court today extended till May 10 the CBI remand of Punjab's Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Finance) Raj Khurana of the BJP and a government official in a graft case.

The two were produced here this afternoon in the court of Judge Ritu Tagore at the expiry of their CBI custody.

Khurana and Devinder Singh, an employee of the office of Registrar of Firms and Societies, Punjab were arrested on May 5 for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore for closing a complaint against Punjab Automobile Mechanics Association.

The raid had resulted in recovery of Rs 15 lakh in cash and Rs 1.35 crore through cheques from the car belonging to Devinder which was parked outside the official residence of the CPS.

The CBI counsel contended that the two accused had to be confronted with Local Bodies and Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia and Technical Education Minister Swarna Ram, whose names also cropped up during the conversation between Devinder Singh and Khurana and Manpreet Singh, the complainant.

The CBI had earlier submitted to the court three recordings of the conversations made with a Digital Voice Recorder (DVR) between the two arrested accused and the complainant.

The prosecution counsel informed the court that they have taken voice samples of Khurana and Devinder Singh to match it with the recordings.

The counsel told the court that Swarna Ram had informed the agency that he would join the investigations on May 9. Kalia has not been contactable so far, the agency informed the court.

The CBI also stated that they had recovered the note of Swarna Ram in which he had clearly mentioned that the complaint against the Association filed by another faction of members was genuine and action be taken.

Late last night the Punjab Government had denied any knowledge about existence of any noting of the ministers.

The defence counsel opposed the extension of the remand on the plea that there was no need for confronting the two accused with the two ministers.

The CBI had registered a case under Prevention of Corruption Act against Devinder Singh, on the basis of a complaint received from Secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanic Association alleging demand of bribe of Rs.1.5 crore by the official of Registrar, Firms & Societies, Punjab, for closing the complaint against the Association without any action.

The agency had also booked Khurana alleging that the bribe money was to be handed over through him to Local Bodies and Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia for closing the complaint against Manpreet Singh and other office bearers of the Association.

According to the CBI, Devinder had assured the complainant that he had spoken to Khurana who had already taken up the matter with Kalia.

The agency had told the court on Thursday that Khurana had denied having met Kalia whose name figured in the conversation and instead he referred to another minister Swarna Ram.

Both the ministers have denied any relation with the accused or the complainant or with the case.

Meanwhile CBI sources said that both the ministers had been directed to join the investigations and extend their cooperation in investigation of the case. They are expected to join the investigation next week.

According to the CBI, the accused also threatened that in case of non-payment of the bribe amount, government will take control of the Association and a criminal case will be registered against its office bearers.
Rajneesh Madhok



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