The CBI has urged the Delhi High Court to allow it to examine a foreign national as a witness in a case involving Congress leader Jagdish Tytler and arms dealer Abhishek Verma for allegedly writing a forged letter addressed to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009. The CBI has challenged a trial court's October 23, 2020 order by which its plea to examine C Edmond Allen was dismissed.
The plea was opposed by the counsel for Verma on the ground that CBI had tried to summon this witness earlier and he was summoned on four occasions but he did not appear before the trial court after which the prosecution evidence was closed.
Justice Yogesh Khanna was told by advocate Maninder Singh, representing Verma, that the Supreme Court had fixed one year for completing the trial in the case and that has expired and allowing examination of the witness would start the trial de novo.
The counsel further said the trial court already fixed the case for final arguments and allowing examination of Allen would lead to recording of additional statements of the accused and they will have to be given the opportunity to summon further witnesses.
To this, CBI counsel Anil Grover sought time from the high court to seek instructions, if they need to apply for extension of timeline for trial.
The agency submitted that Allen could not be called earlier for examination since he had put in various conditions for coming to India, including business class flight ticket, but now he has agreed to depose as a witness through video conferencing.
CBI wants to examine Allen to prove certain e-mail IDs, allegedly used by the accused to send the purported forged letter.
However, the application was dismissed by the trial court noting that despite an order of November 26, 2018 of closure of evidence of this witness, no effort was made by CBI to challenge it and if he was really important, the CBI ought to have examined the witness by challenging the earlier order.
The trial court had on December 9, 2015 put Tytler and Verma on trial after framing charges for alleged offences punishable under various sections of IPC, including 420 (cheating), 471 (fraudulently or dishonestly using as genuine any forged document or electronic record) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
It had also framed charges under a provision of Prevention of Corruption Act. The accused persons had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
The charge sheet was filed by CBI on a complaint of then Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken, alleging a forged letter on his letterhead was addressed to Manmohan Singh seeking easing of business visa norms in 2009.
Verma and Tytler were named in the charge sheet for the offence of attempting to cheat under IPC and a provision of Prevention of Corruption Act. Tytler was granted bail by the court after he had appeared before it in pursuance to summons. Verma, who was lodged in Tihar Jail, was later granted bail in the case.
In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged Tytler had "actively connived" with Verma to cheat a Chinese telecom firm and the Congress leader had first shown a "fake and forged" letter to the company's officials, claiming it was written by Maken to the then Prime Minister.