HC notice to CBI on former Samata Party chief’s plea

NEW DELHI, May 11: The CBI was today directed by the Delhi High Court to file its response on former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly’s plea seeking a reduction in the surety amount to be deposited by her to visit abroad.
Justice Mukta Gupta issued notice to the CBI and asked the probe agency to file its reply by May 14 besides filing a status report by the next date of hearing.
The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Abhijat appearing for Jaitly, who is facing trial for allegedly taking a bribe 11 years ago to recommend to the then NDA government a fake defence deal.
A CBI court had on May 1 allowed Jaitly to visit Singapore from May 30 to June 8 to attend a panel debate, but on furnishing a surety bond of Rs 3 lakh in the form of fixed deposit receipts (FDR) of a bank and instructed her not to extend her stay.
Challenging the trial court’s order, Jaitly has sought a reduction in the surety amount, saying she is 65 years old and is not engaged in any monetarily gainful employment.
Claiming that even her entire savings collectively would not amount to Rs 3 lakh, Jaitly has said that earlier she had applied for and was duly granted permission to travel abroad as many as 5 times and always had to deposit Rs 25,000 as FDR.
She has alleged even though her application was allowed, the trial court has indirectly fettered her right to travel abroad by imposing the “onerous” condition of Rs 3 lakh.
The case of bribe against Jaitly was lodged on the basis of a sting ‘Operation Westend,’ conducted by news portal tehelka.Com in 2001, exposing alleged corruption in defence deals.
George Fernandes, founder of Samata party, was the Defence Minister at that time.
The court had framed charges against three persons for offences of criminal conspiracy under IPC and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) dealing with ‘taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant’.
Special CBI Judge Kawal Jeet Arora had put Jaitly, her erstwhile party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and retired Major General S P Murgai on trial after they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges framed by the court against them.
The trial court had said the three accused, along with one Surender Kumar Surekha who has turned approver, hatched a conspiracy to accept bribe from Mathew Samuel, representative of Westend International for inducing officials of Ministry of Defence for obtaining supply orders for hand-held thermal imagers from the Army headquarters in favour of the firm.
The trial court had said that being the national president of Samata Party, Jaitly had on December 28, 2000, allegedly accepted Rs two lakh as “gratification” from Samuel at the official residence of Fernandes. (PTI)


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