Kolkata: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal police on Saturday arrested businessman Pawan Kumar Ruia, chairman of the embattled Ruia Group, in New Delhi, acting on a complaint by the Indian Railways. He has been charged with cheating among other criminal offences.
The railways had lodged a complaint with the police saying that Jessop and Co., a Ruia Group-controlled engineering firm, had received components and raw materials worth Rs50 crore for manufacturing wagons, but didn’t honour contractual commitments.
On a recent visit to the wagon maker’s factory in Kolkata, railway officers and investigators from the state police could neither find the components supplied to it nor the wagons that were to be manufactured, CID officers said on Saturday, asking not to be identified.
CID had launched a probe into the affairs of Jessop after a fire broke out at its factory several times in the recent past. Workers of the defunct company have for years been alleging that the management was stripping Jessop’s factory of valuable assets such as machines. The reports of fire got the attention of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who ordered a probe into the allegations.
The Ruia Group dismissed the allegation of asset stripping, saying that it was itself a victim of thefts from its closed factory and that the police had failed to secure it despite repeated requests for help. It said it had even obtained a court order asking the police to step up vigil.
On Saturday, the Ruia Group said that its chairman was no longer associated with Jessop in any manner—he was no longer an executive or a shareholder in Jessop. “We fail to understand how he can be dragged into the case,” the Ruia Group said in a statement, adding that it would legally challenge his detention by the CID.
As pressure mounted, Ruia moved the Calcutta high court in October, seeking anticipatory bail. Though the court refused to grant bail, it asked the CID not to take any “coercive” step, while directing Ruia to cooperate with the investigation.
But Ruia, the former chairman of Jessop and tyremaker Dunlop India Ltd, did not turn up at the CID headquarters to face questioning. Notices were sent repeatedly to him but to no avail, said the officers cited above.
In the wake of the complaint lodged by the railways, Ruia moved the Calcutta high court, again seeking anticipatory bail. This matter is to be heard on Monday. But by then, the CID will have produced him in court, praying for custodial remand. He is expected to be brought to Kolkata on Saturday evening.