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Economic Fraud

The Curious Case Of Missing 103 Kg Of Gold: All You Need To Know About The Rs 43 Cr Gold Missing From CBI Custody



New Delhi: As CBI has set up an “internal enquiry” in the case of missing 103 kg of seized gold, the Madras High Court has asked local Crime Branch-CID police to probe the case, which left the country’s premier investigating agency in an embarrassing situation.

The incident of missing gold worth Rs 43 crore appears to be straight from some Hollywood flick. Over 103 kg of gold which was seized from a Chennai based importer during 2012 raid has gone missing from safes and vaults of Surana Corporation Ltd but under the CBI’s lock and seal. The event has not only left the central agency red-faced but also puzzled.

What Is CBI Saying:

CBI searched building of Surana Corporation limited, NSC Bose Road, Chennai and prepared a search list.  The search list mentioned that 400.47 kg gold has been inventorised and was kept in safe and vaults of Surana, sealed in presence of independent witnesses and the MD of Surana corporation and its officials.

As per the directions of the High Court the vaults were opened in the presence of official liquidator, officials belonging to six banks and independent witnesses and inspected from February 27, 2020 to  February 29 to hand over the gold to the lender banks of Surana Corporation.

The seals affixed on the vaults were found intact. However, gold weighed only 296.66 kgs.  As the discrepancy between the quantity mentioned in search memo and as per the weight came to notice, CBI promptly ordered an internal inquiry by a senior officer to look into the role of its officials, if any.

CBI clarified that the inventorised gold was not kept in Malkhana of CBI. Rather it was in premises of Surana only under the seal.

What Did Madras High Court Say:

High Court has observed that CBI under the DSPE Act does not have authority to register a theft case which falls within the domain of local police.

Taking note of the matter, the Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-CID police to investigate the matter. The probe will be conducted by a SP-rank officer and must be completed within six months, the court said.

In its application before the Madras high court Judge P. N. Prakash, the CBI said: “The prestige of the CBI would come down if the investigation is done by the local police”. But the court rejected the plea, saying, “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.”

“This court cannot subscribe to this view because the law does not sanction such an inference. All policemen must be trusted, and it does not lie in the mouth of one to say that CBI have special horns, whereas, local police have only a tail,” Justice Prakash said.

The high court had noted, “Had any property been lost either from the malkhana (property room) of the court or from the malkhana of the CBI, what should have been done?” The answer to this question is obvious. A regular FIR for theft should have been registered in the jurisdictional police station and the police investigation under Chapter XII of Cr.P.C. should have been conducted.”

“At the end of the investigation, the Investigating Officer may come to the conclusion that the actual gold that was seized was only 296.606 kg, but it was mistakenly entered in the inventory as 400.47 kilogram. Strangely, this has not been done in this case till date. One can understand if the difference had been a few grams, but this Court is unable to fathom as to how there could be a discrepancy of more than 100 kilogram in the weight of gold. Gold will not diminish in weight like ganja by efflux of time,” it said.