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Irrigation scam: SC rejects anticipatory bail pleas of two accused

The Tribune 2017-12-07 19:56:00

Asks ex-chief engineer Harvinder Singh and contractor Gurinder Singh to surrender in a week. File photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of former chief engineer Harvinder Singh and contractor Gurinder Singh, who are facing criminal investigation as accused in the Rs 1,000 crore Punjab irrigation scam. 

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A Bench of Justice NV Ramana and Justice S Abdul Nazeer dismissed their special leave petitions after senior counsel Shyam Divan and Punjab Advocate-General Atul Nanda opposed it on the ground that the accused needed to be interrogated. 

“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order passed by the (Punjab and Haryana) High Court,” said the Bench in its order after perusing the “relevant material” and hearing senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi and KTS Tulsi on behalf of the accused duo. 

However, acceding to the request of Rohatgi and Tulsi, the top court granted one week from Thursday to the two accused to surrender before the trial court as Punjab government did not object to it. 

The petitioners had challenged the November 16 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissing anticipatory bail pleas of six accused, including Harvinder Singh and Gurinder Singh. 

“This court is convinced that there is prima facie evidence against all petitioners and huge evidence is required to be collected by the investigating agency and that is possible only if the custodial interrogation is allowed,” the High Court had said. 

However, the Supreme Court said, “Any observations made by the High Court in the impugned order does not come in the way of the petitioners in considering the bail applications and the main matters before the trial court. As a sequel to the above, pending applications, if any, shall stand disposed of.” 

The accused are facing probe in relation to an FIR registered on August 17 by the State Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, for alleged cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and various other offences, including those under the Prevention of Corruption Act. 

The Bureau alleged that in the past seven-eight years, engineers from the Irrigation Department and other officials misused their powers connived with Gurinder and allocated works worth Rs 1,000 crore to the contractor on a rate which was 50% more than departmental rates and thereby caused huge loss to the government.

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