NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has granted anticipatory bail to a former special secretary of Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC), charge-sheeted in Srijan scam in which state government funds were allegedly diverted to an NGO.
The court said that no coercive steps will be taken against petitioner Prabhat Kumar Sinha till the trial is concluded.
"Having heard the counsel appearing for the petitioner as well as the Additional Solicitor General appearing for the respondent, Union of India, the petitioner is granted anticipatory bail. No coercive steps will be taken against the petitioner till the trial is concluded. In view of the above, the Special Leave Petition is disposed of," the court said in its August 9 order.
The order was delivered by a bench of justices RF Nariman (since retired) and B R Gavai During the hearing, advocates Shoeb Alam and Fauzia Shakil, appearing for Sinha, said that the petitioner has not been arrested during the course of the investigation, and cognisance had already been taken by the court.
"Therefore, there is no need for custodial interrogation at this stage. Hence anticipatory bail be granted to him," Alam said, adding that the high court had committed a patent error by assuming that there was a possibility of tampering with evidence.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the CBI and the Centre, said that it is financial crime and involves a loss to the public exchequer.
On December 4 last year, the top court had directed that no coercive action be taken against Sinha, who is a former special secretary of BPSC.
The top court had issued notice to the CBI seeking its response on the appeal filed by Sinha, who has also held the post of Deputy Development Commissioner-cum-CEO of Zila Parishad, against the Patna High Court order denying him anticipatory bail in the case.
Sinha in his appeal filed through advocate Fauzia Shakil has said that he has served in state administrative service for over 34 years and has superannuated as special secretary in BPSC on September 30, 2017.
In August 2017, the CBI had taken over the probe into the Srijan scam in which government funds worth about Rs 1,000 crore were allegedly diverted to the accounts of a non-government organisation.
Sinha's appeal claimed that false and baseless allegations were made against him for misappropriating government funds that were to be utilised for the implementation of schemes under the 13th Finance Commission.
"The petitioner is not named in the FIR but his name has been included as an accused for the first time in the charge sheet...filed by the CBI in FIR lodged in 2017," the appeal said.
Sinha in his appeal denied the allegations of misappropriation of funds against him and said that the steps taken by him were in public interest while holding the post of DDC-cum-CEO, Zila Parishad of Bhagalpur district.
"The petitioner had no knowledge of any diversion or transfer of the amount from the bank account of the 13th Finance Commission Scheme to the account of Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Ltd, (SMVSSL).
"All the transactions leading to misappropriation of funds were done by the bankers in violation of the rules and guidelines of the RBI," the appeal alleged.
It claimed the petitioner did not have any occasion "to disbelieve or doubt the misappropriation by the bank officials as the cheque issued by the petitioner to the panchayat, panchayat samitis and Zila Parishad was never dishonoured and he was provided with fake bank statements as and when sought from the bank".