Note ban puts probe agencies in a fix
Probe agencies like CBI and NIA have found themselves in a piquant situation following demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, taking varying stands in different courts on whether to keep the seized crime money with them to safeguard evidence or deposit the currency to save them from becoming worthless.
The dilemma is simultaneously bothering the accused as well, as they have to accord consent in courts that the seized crime money may be deposited by probe agencies.
Such consent would bar them from raising defence at a later stage in trial with regard to the authenticity of the seizure or whether the same currency notes were seized during the alleged raids.
In one case, a special court allowed the CBI's plea to deposit Rs three lakh as fixed deposit receipts after accused Ashutosh Kumar Singh, who was working as a Deputy General Manager of the Handicrafts and Handloom Export Corporation of India Ltd (Ministry of Textiles), consented that he was "not disputing the identity of the amount/money seized".
CBI, in its plea in the graft case, said "due to demonetisation scheme of Government of India, now the seized currency (old currency) is needed to be deposited in the bank account maintained by the CBI. In order to save the seized currency from turning invalid, necessary orders are solicited from the court."
However, in another graft case involving former Medical Council of India President Ketan Desai, the same agency opposed the plea of the accused that Rs two crore, which was allegedly seized in cash by CBI over six years ago, be deposited in a bank. CBI claimed that the notes were bribe money which were important evidence. If deposited, it would damage the prosecution case as these were yet to be exhibited before the lower court, it said. The trial has been stayed by the apex court in the case.