Court reserves order on Ravinder Rishi's plea to go abroad

A Delhi court today reserved for tomorrow its order on plea by the chief of Vectra group firms, Ravinder Rishi, seeking permission to visit UK for his medical treatment and to attend to his business there.

57-year-old Rishi, a British national, is facing CBI probe in connection with the alleged irregularities in supply of all-terrain Tatra trucks to public sector Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) by his firm Tatra-Sipox UK.

Special CBI Judge Talwant Singh reserved the order after hearing arguments from the counsel for Rishi and the CBI.

"Put up for order for tomorrow," the judge said after both the sides concluded their arguments.

During the hearing, CBI's prosecutor V K Sharma opposed Rishi's plea saying the probe into the case is still going on and most of the investigation is to be carried out in the UK where the accused wants to go.

"The purpose of the probe will be frustrated if he (Rishi) does not come back to India," Sharma said.

The agency also opposed Rishi's plea apprehending that he may flee if he is allowed to go to the UK and might destroy the crucial evidence.

Rishi had earlier moved the court for its permission to go to the UK for four weeks for medical treatment and business purpose.

He has also sought a direction to the CBI to suspend the look out circular, issued against him on March 31 this year.

Appearing for Rishi, senior advocate Atul Nanda told the court that all the evidence in the case is documentary and is in the CBI's possession as well as in the government's record.

"I (Rishi) cannot tamper with the evidence or other documents related to this case," Nanda said, adding, "all the evidence is with you (CBI), how can I destroy it?"

Rishi's counsel Nanda also argued that his client has always co-operated with the agency and has joined the probe whenever the CBI has asked him.

He also cited the reports of the doctors in England, under whom Rishi has been undergoing treatment for liver ailments and other diseases, and said he needs urgent medical attention.

He said Rishi's wife and children are in London and in his absence, his business is also suffering there.

The CBI prosecutor, however, opposed Rishi's plea and asserted that he can manage his business from India also and could get the necessary medical treatment here as well.
"Till the time the probe is not completed, he (Rishi) should not be allowed to go abroad," the prosecutor said.

Rishi, in his plea, had said he had recently approached the Supreme Court challenging the look out circular and had sought permission to travel abroad but the court permitted him to withdraw his plea and granted liberty to him to approach the appropriate forum for relief.

The Vectra group firms chief has been quizzed several times by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck deal as he has a substantial stake in Tatra Sipox UK.

The CBI has registered a case naming Rishi and unnamed officials of the Defence Ministry, the Army and the BEML on March 30 for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency is probing alleged irregularities in assigning the supply of trucks from the then Czechoslovakia-based Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to Tatra-Sipox UK owned by Rishi in 1997 showing it as original equipment manufacturer and fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company.

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