AFTER 16 years, former Chandigarh chief engineer K K Jerath was acquitted in yet another case of corruption, the last of the nine cases lodged against him, by a city court on Thursday.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Najar Singh also acquitted 24 other co-accused — 21 employees of the Chandigarh Administration and three alleged middlemen — in a case of alleged payment of kickbacks to Jerath in return for award of contracts.
The employees included C G Rai, then executive engineer; S S Dhir, then superintending engineer; R P Vashisht, then personal assistant to the chief engineer; K Gandhi, then junior engineer, and S L Garg, then executive engineer.
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Nine corruption cases were lodged against Jerath between 1998 and 2005. On November 24, 1997, he was placed under suspension. On March 8, 1999, he was dismissed from service on the grounds that he was absent during the suspension.
Of the nine cases, one was withdrawn and two cases were clubbed. He was convicted in one case by a special CBI court and awarded three years of imprisonment. His appeal against conviction is pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
His dismissal was set aside on February 12 by the high court which also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the administration. The division bench, headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, observed that Jerath was never afforded an opportunity to defend himself.
In the case decided on Thursday, Jerath was accused of receiving kickbacks from 18 firms for granting contracts for the supply of electrical goods through alleged middlemen, Dinesh Sharma, Suresh Sharma and Sunil Kalia.
There were a total of 29 accused, four of whom died before framing of charges in 2005. During the trial, all 18 firms denied the charge of giving kickbacks.
Jerath said, “I was falsely implicated in all these cases. In October 1995, I was made independent secretary of the Engineering Department. The then Home Secretary, who joined the same day when I was made the secretary of the department, could not digest the fact that I was directly reporting to the Advisor (to the UT Administrator) and was given so much of responsibility.”
His counsel Tarminder Singh said, “My client had to face a lot of harassment; he was falsely implicated in the cases. His family life was adversely affected.
He is innocent and it is reflected from the fact that he was acquitted.’’