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"Agni Pariksha For CBI": Madras High Court Directs Crime Branch To Investigate About 100Kg Gold Missing From CBI Custody

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
12 Dec 2020 7:18 AM GMT
Agni Pariksha For CBI: Madras High Court Directs Crime Branch To Investigate About 100Kg Gold Missing From CBI Custody
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High Court rejected the contention that the prestige of the CBI would come down, if investigation is done by the local police.

The Madras High Court has directed the Crime Branch to probe about the missing 100 Kg gold from CBI custody.Justice PN Prakash rejected the CBI's request to direct the CBI of the neighbouring State or the National Investigating Agency to conduct the investigation in this regard.According to liquidator for Surana Corporation Limited, CBI had seized 400.47 kgs. of gold in connection with...

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The Madras High Court has directed the Crime Branch to probe about the missing 100 Kg gold from CBI custody.

Justice PN Prakash rejected the CBI's request to direct the CBI of the neighbouring State or the National Investigating Agency to conduct the investigation in this regard.

According to liquidator for Surana Corporation Limited, CBI had seized 400.47 kgs. of gold in connection with the investigation against the officials of Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation of India  and Surana Corporation Limited  on the allegation that MMTC had shown undue favour to Surana, who were importing gold and silver. Pursuant to NCLT direction to return the Gold to the liquidator (as criminal cases were withdrawn), the CBI, along with the representatives of all the banks and Surana, inventorised the gold that was kept in the vaults of Surana. It was found that there was a shortage of 103.864 kgs. of gold. In these circumstances, the liquidator approached the High Court seeking a direction to CBI to return 103.864 Kgs of gold.

While considering this petition, the court asked the CBI why no FIR was registered for theft in this regard. The CBI's Special Public Prosecutor submitted that an internal enquiry is being conducted by the CBI and that under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the CBI does not have the authority to register a theft case, which falls within the domain of the local police.

He requested the Court to give a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for theft and conduct investigation since the prestige of the CBI would come down, if investigation is done by the local police.  Justice PN Prakash observed:

"This Court cannot subscribe to this view, because, the law does not sanction such an inference. All policemen have to be trusted and it does not lie in the mouth of one to say that the CBI have special horns, whereas, the local police have only a tail...It may be an Agni Pariksha for the CBI, but, that cannot be helped. If their hands are clean, like Sita, they may come out brighter, if not they would have to face the music.

The court observed that the averments with regard to weight in a panchanama cannot be taken lightly, especially in a case of this nature when the difference is not a few grams, but, a whopping one lakh grams. The Court, therefore, directed CB-CID of State to conduct an investigation in this regard. The bench said:

"First, the alleged shortfall of 103.97 kgs. of gold could be a genuine mistake as contended by the CBI, or Secondly, the CBI officials, in collusion, with the panchas and others, may have illegally dealt with the gold while maintaining the weight of the gold as 400 kgs. in the seizure mahazar, as a shortfall therein would have made Surana cry foul. The third possibility is that the CBI officials, in collusion with Surana and others, may have permitted Surana to deal with 100 and odd kgs. of gold after effecting the seizure of 400 kgs. This Court is not expressing any opinion on these possibilities. Suffice it to say that a free and fair investigation is, therefore, imperative to unearth the truth in this case."

Case: C.Ramasubramaniam vs. Inspector of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation [W.P.No.14030 of 2020 ]

Advocate Vipin Warrior for petitioner.

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