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Anti-graft bureau against bail for 'tainted' ex-PWD secretary


Press Trust of India Kochi
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) probing alleged corruption in the construction of a flyover here informed the Kerala High Court on Monday that retired bureaucrat T O Sooraj had amassed wealth from sources other than his known source of income during his tenure as the state PWD secretary.
Opposing the bail plea of Sooraj, arrested in connection with the case, the anti-corruption watchdog said the retired bureaucrat had purchased 6.68 acres of land with a residential complex in Edappally South village in the name of his son within three months after he, as the PWD secretary, released the mobilisation advance of Rs 8.25 crore to the contracting company on July 22, 2014 for building the flyover.
"Even though the deed value of this property is shown as Rs 1.04 crore, the probe has revealed that he had purchased the property for Rs 3.30 crore," R Asok Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, VACB, said in an additional statement filed before the high court.
The VACB said while Sooraj was questioned in judicial custody on September 23, he had admitted to having spent the amount to buy the property in the name of his son (a benami).
For this purchase, he had spent Rs 2 crore as black money, said the statement.
The VACB claimed the evidence collected against Sooraj clearly established the case against him and his role was evidenced beyond doubt. The investigation agency said the role of the then PWD minister V K Ebrahim Kunju in the case was under investigation, which required sufficient time to unearth the facts.
The VACB said if Sooraj was granted bail at this stage, he had the potential to influence the witnesses in the case.
"There is a possibility of threat to the witnesses or the persons associated with the investigation," it said.
In addition, there was a possibility of tampering with the evidence (documents) in other departments or causing hindrances to the investigation, the statement said.
Sooraj and three others were arrested on August 30 by the VACB for alleged corruption in the construction of the flyover.
In his bail plea, Sooraj claimed it was the then public works minister Kunju who had accorded sanction for releasing an interest-free mobilisation advance of Rs 8.25 crore to the contracting company for building the flyover.
The flyover was closed for traffic from May 1 after it started developing cracks within three years of its construction.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had ordered a vigilance probe into the construction of the 750-metre-long flyover, which was inaugurated in October 2016.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 5:20 PM IST

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