NEW DELHI: Congress leader Jagdish Tytler and businessman Abhishek Verma were today put on trial by a Delhi court which said they had prima facie dishonestly used a fake letter addressed to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by then Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken in 2009 to obtain illegal gratification from a private firm.
Special Judge Anju Bajaj Chandna framed charges against both the accused observing that it was evident that Tytler had full knowledge of the nature and purpose of transaction being entered into between Verma and officials of M/s ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd.
The court framed charges against Tytler, who is out on bail, for alleged offences under various sections of IPC including 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and under section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act dealing with taking gratification by corrupt or illegal means to influence public servant.
Verma, who is in judicial custody in various cases lodged against him, was put on trial for alleged offences under sections 120-B read with 420, 471, 511 (attempt to commit an offence) of IPC and under section 8 of the PC Act. The court said prima facie, both the accused had tried to cheat the officials of ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd on the basis of forged letter and Verma had demanded bribe of Rs 50 lakh to sort out the visa issue of their employees.
"....Accused Jagdish Tytler also had shown forged letter of Ajay Maken, then Home Minister for State, addressed to Prime Minister in the presence of your coaccused Abhishek Verma to the officials of M/s ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd to make them believe that visa problem was being sorted out through them and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 120B read with section 8 of PC Act, 471 IPC and 420 IPC and within my cognizance," the judge said.
"Secondly, that you (Tytler) with your coaccused Abhishek Verma... in pursuance to the aforesaid criminal conspiracy dishonestly and fraudulently used as genuine fake and forged letter addressed to Prime Minister from Ajay Maken purported to be issued by Ajay Maken, which you both knew at the time you used it to be a forged document in order to obtain illegal gratification from M/s ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd...," the court said.
After framing of charges against them, both Tytler and Verma pleaded not guilty and claimed trial before the court which posted the matter for March 8 next year for recording of prosecution evidence. During the arguments earlier, both the accused had denied the allegations levelled against them by CBI.
Regarding Verma, the court said, "....in pursuance to the said criminal conspiracy you, accused Abhishek Verma, during the aforesaid period and place, attempted to cheat M/s ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd by dishonestly inducing its officials to deliver amount of Rs 50 lakh on the basis of fake and forged letter addressed to Prime Minister purported to be issued by Ajay Maken by getting the agreement forwarded through C Edmonds Allen of M/s Ganton USA..."
CBI had chargesheeted both the accused alleging that M/s ZTE Telecom India Pvt Ltd was adversely affected by the order in which it was said that all foreigners, who were already in India on business visa and engaged in executing projects or contracts, should leave the country on expiry of their existing visas or by October 31, 2009 which ever was earlier.
It had alleged that firm's official had in October 2009 contacted Verma who said there would be cost implications to sort out this problem with government and further a formal request be made to then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Maken. CBI further claimed that a meeting took place at Tytler's residence where Verma and firm's official were present and during another meeting, the purported forged letter of Maken addressed to the Prime Minister was shown to make them believe that visa problem was being sorted out through them.
CBI said that probe has revealed that letter purportedly written by Maken was not a genuine letter and there was no dispatch number or office correspondence number.
While framing charges, the judge said, "on examining the facts of the case with respect to role played by A2 (Tytler), I find that conspiracy is clear with two circumstances and it can conveniently be inferred that A2 had the knowledge and consent to the nature of transaction proposed by A1 (Verma)."