Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Aug 25:
Special Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court of CBI this evening allowed the CBI to take Artha Tatwa (AT) group chief Pradip Sethy and his accountant Shrikrushna Padhi on a 10-day remand to interrogate them on their role in the multi-crore chit fund scam case in Odisha.
“We had asked for 14 days’ remand for the two accused. But after hearing the arguments, the court granted a 10-day remand,” CBI counsel Kali Charan Mishra said.
The court’s judgement came after the judge heard a fresh plea by the counsel for CBI, who argued that fresh evidence gathered by the agency during its investigation into the case required custodial interrogation of the accused.
Durga Prasad Dhal, lawyer for Sethy opposed the remand plea of CBI stating that state police had already taken his client on remand for interrogation and had filed a charge sheet against him and put him behind bars since last year.
The CBI,it may be noted, has conducted a series of raids in the last few days on the AT group’s head office in the city, besides the residences of senior BJD leader Pravat Tripathy and his associate Subas Padhi. The agency had also scrutinised the accounts of Tripathy and Padhi in the Banki branches of three banks.
A CBI official said Sethy would be quizzed about his claims made during the interrogation by the state police last year that he had paid large sums of money to several political leaders, bureaucrats and journalists as ‘protection money’.
More than 50 persons including ministers, politicians, mine owners, builders and journalists are facing allegations of taking bribes to the tune of Rs 65 crore from the AT Group, the official added.
Padhi would be questioned about the irregularities in maintenance of the company’s accounts, he added.
Both of them were produced in the court for the second time in three days. On Saturday, the court had deferred the hearing on the remand plea of the CBI to today.
On Saturday too, Sethy’s lawyer had strongly opposed CBI’s remand plea of his client but the CBI counsel had sought more time to prepare his argument for which the hearing on the matter was postponed to today.
Sethy was arrested by Kharavela Nagar police on May 12, 2013 following allegations that his company had duped investors of crores of rupees. The police has so far confiscated properties of the AT group amounting to Rs 410 crore that includes 11 costly cars, 159 buildings, 242 acres of land and Rs 2 crore in bank balance. Twenty-six cheating cases have been registered against him at different places in Odisha.
Talking to media person here, Pradip Sethy said his interrogation would help the CBI officials to nab many influential persons in the state who had taken crores of money from him while refusing to name them.
The AT Group is among 44 firms under the CBI scanner for duping thousands of investors in the state.