The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked a businessman, Amit Kumar Agarwal, and unknown Kolkata Police officials for allegedly luring a lawyer into receiving ₹50 lakh in bribes to get the PILs purportedly involving him and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren dismissed.
“On Thursday, searches were conducted by the agency at multiple locations in Jharkhand and Kolkata,” said an agency official.
On the Jharkhand High Court’s directive, in December 2022, the CBI initiated a preliminary inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Agarwal on the charge of scandalising the judiciary, Enforcement Directorate officials and other government officials.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), the enquiry revealed that on October 10, 2021, a PIL was filed by one Shiv Shankar Sharma through advocate Rajeev Kumar before the Jharkhand High Court, wherein it was alleged that Mr. Agarwal among others was involved in the laundering of ill-gotten money of Mr. Soren and others via shell companies.
Another PIL was filed on February 16, 2022, against Mr. Soren and the then Jharkhand Mining Secretary Pooja Singhal, who is being probed by the ED, related to a mining lease allegedly acquired by the CM, who held the charge of Minister of Department of Mines and Industries, said the FIR. The High Court clubbed both the petitions and active hearing in both the PILs was under way.
Based on its findings, the CBI alleged that in March 2022, Mr. Agarwal – through the then DC, Ranchi, – had attempted to influence Mr. Kumar in connection with the PILs. He filed a complaint dated July 31, 2022, with the Hare Street police station in Kolkata alleging an illegal demand of Rs.10 crore and extortion for getting the petitions dismissed. On his complaint, the Kolkata Police registered a case against Mr. Kumar and Mr. Sharma.
The CBI found that Mr. Agarwal allegedly called Mr. Kumar from Ranchi to Kolkata, first on July 13, 2022, and then on July 31, 2022, through one of his contacts named Sonu Agarwal, and allegedly induced him for taking money to get the matter resolved.
The conversations between Mr. Agarwal and Mr. Kumar on both the occasions were recorded by the businessman. He called Mr. Kumar on July 31, 2022, handed over Rs.50 lakh to him and got him trapped by the Kolkata Police, according to the CBI.
The CBI, in its FIR, alleged that the information provided by Mr. Agarwal to the Hare Street police station was false and that the bribe was given to Mr. Kumar by alluring him with an intention to interfere with the judicial process.
The agency said that contrary to the allegation made in the complaint to the Hare Street police station, it was allegedly Mr. Agarwal who called Mr. Kumar to Kolkata through his contact and offered him money. The conversation recorded by him also did not reveal any threat of extortion, said the FIR.
The CBI concluded that Mr. Agarwal had called Mr. Kumar to Kolkata, allegedly offered and gave him Rs.50 lakh to induce the public servant concerned for get the PILs dismissed.