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Court grants bail to judge's husband in graft case

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A special today granted bail to the husband of a judicial officer, arrested in a graft case in which she was allegedly caught by while accepting bribe, saying probe relating to him was complete and there was no chance of him tampering evidence.

Special Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal gave the relief to accused Alok Lakhanpal, who had sought bail on the ground of parity with his wife Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal who was a senior civil judge at the Tis Hazari here.

The also granted bail to co-accused and an advocate Vishal Mehan and asked both of them to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of like amount.

It also directed Alok, a practicing lawyer, and Vishal to surrender their passport with the court and not to leave the country without its prior permission. Both of them were in judicial custody.

"They will contact any of the witnesses and will cooperate in the investigations," the court said.

Their bail pleas were opposed by on the ground that they were directly involved in the conspiracy as well as actual trap consisting of demand, acceptance and recovery.

The court had earlier granted bail to Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal, who was suspended after her arrest, considering that there was nobody to look after her two minor kids as her husband was also under incarceration.

The judicial officer, her husband and Vishal were arrested by CBI on the night of September 28.

While granting bail to Alok and Vishal, the court noted that the CBI had taken two-day police remand and they were in judicial custody since October 1.

"Investigations qua both of them are complete, as they are no more required in the investigations, as all the relevant exhibits have already been sent to CFSL for forensic evaluation, since the court being presided over by accused number 2 (Rachna) is still stated to be sealed, there are no chances of tampering of evidence and both of them belong to respectable strata of society, therefore there are no chances of absconsion (act of absconding)," the court said.

The court was also informed that CCTV cameras installed inside the house of the judge and her husband were not working at the time of alleged bribe transaction and the Whatsapp message allegedly sent by Vishal to the mobile phone of the judge, was not available, as it had been allegedly deleted.

In its bail order, the court said it appeared to be a

case of double trap, as after trap of Vishal, he led the CBI team to the house of the judge and her husband for second trap at night.

"The circumstances under which accused number 1 (Vishal) led investigating agency for second trap are not clear at this stage. Same trap money seems to have been used in both the traps, which is bit incongruent.

"Regarding the alleged recovery of Rs 94 lakh from the house of accused number 2 and 3 (judge and her husband), since the said house was admittedly in joint possession of the couple and Alok is practicing lawyer, the source to whom the said money belongs, is a matter of investigation and trial. This amount of Rs 94 lakh in any case, does not pertain to the present trap case," the court said.

According to CBI, the judge and her husband were arrested while allegedly receiving a bribe of Rs four lakh from Vishal, who was appointed as local commissioner in a case adjudicated by her, at her residence.

CBI had claimed that during searches at the judge's residence, Rs 94 lakh cash was seized by it along with two locker keys and other material.

"A case was registered under Prevention of Corruption Act against the advocate on a complaint alleging that in a matter being heard by a Senior Civil Judge (West), Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, she had appointed him (Vishal) as local commissioner for conducting an inspection of the disputed property and submitting his report.

"The advocate (appointed as LC) allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs two lakh for himself as well as Rs 20 lakh for the said senior civil judge for deciding the matter in favour of the complainant," it had said.

CBI had said its teams laid a trap at the designated place where the bribe was to be allegedly paid by Vishal.

First Published: Mon, October 17 2016. 17:48 IST