SC to decide on court monitoring of Odisha scam probe

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New Delhi, Nov 9: The Supreme Court Wednesday said it will examine a plea for court monitoring of the CBI probe into a chit fund scam, in which 44 Odisha-based companies were allegedly involved, after the court was told the investigation was "proceeding extremely slowly".

Seeking directions to ensure proper and effective investigation, amicus curiae Shyam Divan told the bench headed by Justice T.S. Thakur to seek a specific report from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the progress made in the investigation and the extent of cooperation the investigating agency was getting from the Odisha government.

Pointing to inadequate staff involved in the investigation, Divan said that while the number of chit fund companies being probed was 44, the number of investigating officers was just five.

Superintendent of Police (CBI) M.K. Sinha, who is heading the investigation team in Odisha, is being assisted by DSP R.N. Tripathy and three inspectors - G.K. Pradhan, Pradeep Sahoo and S.K. Samal.

"It is thus evident that the CBI or the ED has clearly not been effective in carrying out the investigation as mandated by this court," Divan said.

"The slow progress of investigation in Odisha shows the impediments faced by these agencies. Out of 44 entities, it appears that progress has been made only in respect of four entities," the court was told.

"At this pace, it is likely to take several years before investigations are concluded in respect of all of the entities which are involved," Divan said.

The application by the amicus curiae urged the court to seek a report from the investigating agency on the number of people undertaking the probe and infrastructure available to them.

The application said that based on the response of the Centre and the CBI, the court could consider to direct investigations to be conducted under its supervision or under the supervision of a monitoring team constituted by it.

The bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice C. Nagappan by their May 9, 2014, order had asked the CBI to undertake investigation in all the cases registered against the 44 companies and permitted the investigating agency to conduct further investigations into all such cases in which charge sheets have been filed.

The court was told that the May 9 judgment pointed to the involvement of 44 chit fund companies in Odisha having inter-state ramifications and involving the collection of over Rs.500 crore each.

"Although more than five months have passed, the media reports indicate that the CBI has proceeded with investigations into the affairs of only four entities - Seashore Group, Artha Tatwa, Greenray International and Nabadiganta Capital Services."

"Little or no progress appears to have been made in respect of 40 entities," the amicus curiae said in his application.

The court was told that "in the case of more than 10 people who are either elected representatives belonging to diverse political parties and/or ministers, despite efforts by CBI, these people are refusing to cooperate with the investigation".

"Consequently, it appears that progress of the investigation is being stalled at the instance of influential political leaders and the CBI appears unwilling or unable to vigorously pursue the investigation," he said.
IANS

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