February 25, 2017 1:40:48 am
SIX YEARS after the Mumbai Police registered a case against businessman Bimal Agarwal and arrested him for selling allegedly faulty bomb disposal suits to the Maharashtra government, the probe in the case is stuck as there has been no response to formal requests to the US, China and Sri Lanka for details relating to the importers in the case.
Letter Rogatories are formal requests from a court to a foreign court for some judicial assistance which commonly act as evidence in the case. Following the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the Maharashtra Police came under fire for its poor quality armour after the killing of many senior police officers, including former Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who were killed by Ajmal Kasab and his accomplice Ismail Khan even though they had donned security gear.
As most of the suits used by various bomb detection and disposal squads (BDDS) units were found to be outdated, the state government subsequently floated tenders for the purchase of 82 bomb disposal suits — 72 in December, 2008 and eight in February 2009. The bid was awarded to Bimal Agarwal’s Techno Trade Impex India Pvt Ltd.
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Agarwal was arrested earlier this week by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for being an alleged ‘conduit’ of a senior Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer, JP Singh, in an alleged corruption case probed by the central agency.
In 2012, a case of forgery and cheating was registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police, which went on to arrest Agarwal in this case.
During the course of the probe, the agency sent LRs to the three countries but is yet to get a response. “To prove that Agarwal had promised to procure the suits from America, though he actually procured over 40 suits from China and over 30 suits from South Africa, we had written to the three countries seeking details on the importers Agarwal had engaged. However, none of the three countries has answered till date and, therefore, the investigation in the case cannot progress further,” said an official. While the entire payment of Rs 6.2 crore was made to him by the state government in March 2009, Agarwal failed to deliver a single bomb disposal suit.
The case was subsequently probed by the ACB, which indicted Agarwal for cheating the state exchequer by claiming to have purchased BDDS suits from America after allegedly procuring inferior quality suits from China and South Africa and profiting.
Finding irregularities in the contract, the then Maharashtra Director General of Police, K Subramanyam, wrote to the Mumbai Police recommending that an FIR be filed against Agarwal and others.
Agarwal than took the state government to the court challenging its decision of not accepting the suits sold by his company Techno Trade Impex India Pvt Ltd. Former Principal Secretary (Home) P K Jain had filed an affidavit stating that Agarwal’s company imported sub-standard suits from China and South Africa and handed it over to the state police.
In September 2010, the Bombay High Court agreed with the state government affidavit and asked Agarwal if he wanted to withdraw the case or wanted the court to dismiss it.
The court observed that it could not direct the state to accept the suits if it was not satisfied about the quality. Agarwal subsequently withdrew the case.
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