The Delhi High Court has refused to grant anticipatory bail to two central government employees in connection with a transfer racket at the Army headquarters here in which officers allegedly paid lakhs of rupees to manipulate their postings.
Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal declined the relief to Hyderabad-based army officer G Purshottam and Bengaluru-based Barrack Store Officer (BSO) S Subash, saying “merely because the petitioners are government servants, they do not enjoy any immunity from arrest if they have committed an offence”.
“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances and the nature and gravity of the alleged offence, this court is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioners in this case. Hence the petition stands dismissed,” the court said.
The two officials had approached the court seeking anticipatory bail on the ground that they had fully cooperated with the CBI officials during the search and probe. Purshottam had claimed that the FIR does not disclose any motive or reward with respect to his role in the case. Opposing their plea, CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor Rajdipa Behura had contended that the investigation was commenced on the basis of an information received.
“The information was fortified by the surveillance of the phones of the accused persons which clearly prove that the petitioner Subash handed over the bribe money to petitioner Purushottam thus it is for this reason that custodial investigation assumes importance,” CBI had said.
Besides them, the CBI had arrested Lt Colonel Ranganathan Suvramani Moni, posted in the personnel division of the Army, and alleged middleman Gaurav Kohli in connecting with the case. Moni and Kohli were later granted bail by a trial court.
The CBI told the high court that an FIR was registered on June 1 against Moni, Purshottam, Subash and Kohli for various offences including alleged criminal conspiracy and corruption. The bribe was paid through hawala channels, the CBI had alleged in its FIR, adding that Moni had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Kohli and Purshottam, an army officer posted in the engineer stores department (ESD), Kakinara, for influencing the transfer of various officers.
Purshottam allegedly contacted army officers who were either posted in different field formations or faced imminent transfer and were desirous of getting posted to their preferred locations. He used to contact Kohli, who was close to senior officers in the personnel division of Army headquarters here, CBI had alleged.
Kohli used these contacts to pursue transfers of army officers for huge illegal gratification, the FIR had claimed. Purshottam had allegedly requested Kohli to pursue the posting of one D S R K Reddy and Subash in exchange for bribe, it had claimed. Both wanted to be posted from Bengaluru to Secunderabad or Visakhapatnam.
Moni assured Subash that he would help him in getting transferred through senior officers in the army headquarters against payment of illegal gratification, it had alleged. Subash had allegedly delivered Rs five lakh as bribe to Kohli through hawala operators out of which Rs two lakhs was transferred to Moni for obtaining the favourable posting.
The court noted that it was revealed during the probe that Purshottam and Subash were actively involved in the commission of offence which could be seen from the telephonic interceptions that showed they were in regular touch with other co-accused for obtaining the favourable posting order for Subash.
It noted that Purshottam had allegedly facilitated the delivery of illegal gratification from Subash to the other co-accused. “Moreover, it has been revealed from the investigation that a sum of Rs 3 lakh, part amount of the bribe money, has been seized from the custody of Purshottam,” the court said.