CBI asked to give phone-tap CDs to land scam accused

March 13th, 2008 - 12:12 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to give 19 CDs of intercepted telephonic conversations to five accused, including a former judge, of a land scam exposed in 2003. Justice S. Murlidhar, asking the investigating agency to provide the CDs Tuesday, also gave the accused permission to listen to the recorded telephonic conversations on or before March 25.

The CBI had registered a case in April 2003 against former judge Shameet Mukherjee and four others for alleged abuse of official position and entering into a criminal conspiracy.

Others named in the first information report (FIR) include sacked Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice-chairman Subhash Sharma, alleged middleman Dharambir Khattar, DDA official Ashok Kapoor and hotelier Vinod Khatri.

In 2006, Khattar had moved the high court against a trial court order denying him access to four hard discs on which the CBI had originally stored telephonic conversations among the accused, who were under covert surveillance.

The agency had prepared the CDs from the discs and sent them to the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Laboratory (APFSL) for verification of their authenticity before producing them in the court as “clinching” evidence against the accused.

Terming “electronic records” as “documents”, Justice Muralidhar also observed that the “prosecution (CBI) is obliged to furnish to the accused copies of only such documents that it proposes to rely upon as indicated in the charge-sheet or of those already sent to the court during investigation.”

In case the accused required further documents to prove his case, he would require the trial court’s prior nod, the bench observed.

“The failure to furnish to the accused by the prosecution at the pre-charge stage all documents gathered during investigation will not be a violation of the right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the constitution,” ruled the bench.

The CBI had between December 2002 and March 2003 intercepted calls from 15 mobile and land phones used by Khattar and his family. The 19 CDs contain conversations pertaining to 768 calls.

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