Alex C Joseph, a native of Kerala, who was arrested by the CBI on the charge of evading customs duty worth several crores of rupees, was granted bail by the Madras High Court on Wednesday.
Vacation judge C S Karnan granted bail to Alex on the condition that he appear before the investigating officials of the CBI twice daily, at 10 am and 5 pm, until further orders.
Opposing the grant of any relief, CBI’s senior special public prosecutor N Chandrasekaran stated that Alex had been arrested after much difficulty and that he might flee if let out on bail, as he had more than one passport in his name. The High Court rightly rejected his bail plea twice earlier, he said, and there was no change in circumstances warranting his release now. Another important person connected to the case was arrested on Monday, he said.
In his petition Alex submitted that he had been languishing in prison for more than 95 days. There was no justification for keeping him in jail any longer, when the charge sheet had been filed by the CBI. There is no restriction on the sale of imported cars since the importer clears the car after adjudication by customs authorities and after paying the redemption fee. It is understood that there are 12 accused each in the two car import cases, Alex said and added that it was significant to note that a public servant — senior intelligence officer with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) — was not included in the charge sheet though his name figured in both the FIRs.
Alex’s first bail petition was dismissed on March 14 and the second one on April 16. According to the CBI, Alex used the names of workers returning from foreign countries to import luxury cars, misdeclaring the vehicles as used ones. The CBI raided the homes and offices of several VIPs, including DMK treasurer M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi, last year when the racket surfaced. On Monday the central agency arrested Sri Ramacandra Medical University chancellor Venkatachalam in connection with the car import case, it said.