103 Kg Gold Missing From CBI Custody In Tamil Nadu, HC Orders Police Probe

The court also rejected CBI’s argument that “the prestige of the CBI would come down if the investigation is done by the local police”.

In a major embarrassment for the central investigating agency CBI, the Madras High Court Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu Police to probe the disappearance of 103 kg gold (amounting to more than Rs 43 crore) from the agency’s custody, rejecting its plea that “the prestige of the CBI would come down if the investigation is done by the local police”, the Indian Express reported. The court, asking the CB-CID to register an FIR, said: “It may be an agni pariksha (trial by fire) for the CBI, but that cannot be helped. If their hands are clean, like Sita, they may come out brighter. If not, they would have to face the music.”

Judge P N Prakash, on the CBI Special Public Prosecutor asking for a probe by the CBI or National Investigation Agency instead of the state police, said: “The court cannot subscribe to this view, because the law does not sanction such an inference. All policemen have to be trusted and it does not lie in the mouth of one to say that the CBI have special horns, whereas, the local police have only a tail.”

In cases dating back to 2012, filed over allegations that officials of Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) in Chennai had shown undue favours towards Surana Corporation Limited, which dealt in the import of gold and silver, the said gold was recovered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The CBI had seized gold amounting to 400.47 kg in the form of bars and ornaments from the office building of Surana in Chennai, and locked and sealed in the firm’s vaults. The agency claims to have submitted the keys of the vault to a Special CBI Court in Chennai, though no date regarding this is mentioned in documents.

As the high court noted, when the CBI opened the vaults in the presence of the bank representatives in February this year, the gold was found to be 103.864 kg short — “to the great shock and surprise of all”.

Arguing that the agency could not be held liable for the missing gold, the CBI told the high court that they had used a weighing machine at Surana’s office to arrive at a figure of 400.47 kg for the gold after the seizure, and the seals affixed by it on the vaults were intact.

There could be a discrepancy in the weight because gold chains were weighed collectively at the time of the seizure, said the Special Public Prosecutor, adding that in February, each item was weighed individually, using more sophisticated machines.

The court, rejecting these arguments, said it was “unable to fathom as to how there could be a discrepancy of more than 100 kg… Gold will not diminish in weight like ganja by efflux.”

The high court, coming down heavily on the CBI, said that had the gold been physically entrusted to the CBI Special Court, and gone missing from there, “the CBI would have cried foul from the rooftops and demanded the scalp of the Special Judge and his Property Clerk. The Special Judge and the Property Clerk would have been placed under suspension and would have even been arrested…”.

The top court, noting that Caesar’s wife should be beyond suspicion”, directed the CB-CID’s Metro Wing in Chennai, which comes under the state government, to register a regular FIR for theft and gave the responsibility of investigation to an SP-rank officer to complete the probe in six months.





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