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HC grants pre-arrest bail to IAS officer in civil supply scam

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Press Trust of India Bilaspur
The Chhattisgarh High Court Monday granted anticipatory bail to IAS officer Anil Tuteja, one of the accused in the multi-crore civil supply scam unearthed in 2015 during the previous BJP government in the state.
Justice Ram Prasanna Sharma granted bail to Tuteja, who has claimed no direct evidence against him, after hearing his anticipatory bail plea, his lawyer Peeyush Bhatia said.
A case was registered at the office of Economic Offences Wing/Anti-Corruption Bureau of the state police at Raipur in 2015 in connection with the alleged scam, he said.
During that time, the ACB and EOW had raided 28 premises of officials and employees of Chhattisgarh State Civil Supply Corporation (CSCSC) and registered a case against 18 people, including two Indian Administrative Service officers Tuteja and Alok Shukla, he said.
Several officials and employees were also arrested in this connection, he said.
Tuteja was then posted as managing director of the corporation.
The Centre had granted sanction for prosecution of Tuteja in 2016, Bhatia said.
A supplementary charge sheet was filed in the case in December 2018 before special judge (prevention of corruption act) in Raipur in which Tuteja was made an accused, he said.
Meanwhile, Tuteja had filed anticipatory bail application in the high court, contenting there was no direct evidence against him in the case, he said.
The petitioners counsels, Avi Singh and Bhatia, in the HC argued their client was charge-sheeted under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 420 (cheating), but there is no evidence against him to prove these charges.
They argued the petitioner has been also booked under section 13(1) (D) and 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, but there is no prima facie evidence that he obtained for himself any pecuniary advantage of any valuable thing.
The FIR in the case was lodged in 2015 but Tuteja was not interrogated then. He was directly chargesheeted in 2018, three years after the FIR was lodged, but no evidence was made presented against him, Bhatia said.
On the other hand, the state governments counsel opposed the anticipatory bail application.
He submitted that though there is no direct evidence against Tuteja, the evidence collected by the prosecution should be taken as a whole.
Therefore, the applicant (Tuteja) is also liable to be charged in the case, the government counsel said.
After hearing the arguments of both sides, the HC granted bail to Tuteja, citing lack of direct evidence against him, Bhatia said.
The alleged scam came to light in February 2015 when ACB and EOW sleuths conducted simultaneous raids at premises of CSCSC and its officials.
The scam related to supply of poor quality salt and rice under Public Distribution System (PDS), and payment of money to certain officials.
The Congress had then claimed the scam was worth Rs 36,000 crore and alleged the then Chief Minister Raman Singh and other high-profile people were named as its beneficiaries in a diary recovered during the raids.
After the formation of the Congress government in the state in December last year, Tuteja had demanded a detailed investigation into the case.
Later, the Congress government set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the case.
The opposition BJP had termed the decision to form the SIT as vindictive politics by the Congress.

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 11:45 PM IST

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