CBI conmen case: HC permits disabled accused to appear via video conference for judgment

The Bombay High Court has permitted a disabled man, accused of posing as a CBI officer and duping several people including filmmaker Rakesh Roshan, to appear before a special CBI court here via video conference when the case judgment is pronounced.

The special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to pronounce its verdict in the case on Tuesday.

A single bench of Justice M S Karnik in its order on Monday noted that the accused, Ashwini Kumar, who is presently out on bail in the case, suffers from 80 per cent disability and hence would not be in a position to travel to Mumbai from Haryana, where he is residing.

Kumar had challenged in the HC an order passed last month by the special CBI court issuing a non-bailable warrant against him and directing him to appear before it on the day judgment is to be pronounced in the case.

He claimed that following an accident he has suffered 80 per cent disability and hence would not be able to appear before the court physically.

Kumar sought permission to appear via video conference and gave an undertaking that he would not at a later stage claim the judgment as illegal on the ground that he was not physically present.

In his plea in the HC, he said even his final statement was recorded online by the special court.

Kumar, who is currently residing with his family in Haryana’s Panipat district, said he would be taken to the district court there from where he would appear online before the special court in Mumbai.

The high court accepted Kumar’s plea and permitted him to appear before the special court via video conference when the judgment is pronounced.

“Considering the peculiar facts of this case and having regard to the medical evidence on record coupled with the fact that the evidence of the petitioner is recorded through video conferencing and as he is suffering from 83 per cent physical disability, in my opinion, in the interest of justice, this is a fit case where the judgment can be pronounced by the trial court by permitting the petitioner to present himself through video conferencing,” the judge said.

The HC also said that CBI officers could accompany Kumar to the Panipat district court.

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Kumar and one Rajesh Rajan were arrested by the CBI in 2011 for allegedly cheating more than 200 people including film personalities like Rakesh Roshan and businessmen.

According to the agency, the accused cheated people since 2006 by posing as CBI officers.

The duo’s luck, however, ran out when they approached Rakesh Roshan seeking money to settle a civil matter the filmmaker was embroiled in.

Roshan allegedly paid Rs 50 lakh to the conmen and later approached the CBI’s anti-corruption wing when his matter was not settled as assured.

According to the CBI, the duo had also approached a politician accused in an alleged scam pertaining to the Adarsh building in Mumbai and promised him help in diluting the case against him in return for payment of a few lakh rupees.

The two were later released on bail.

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