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2020 Hooch Tragedy Ludhiana trader secures bail, court says SIT couldn’t find any evidence

The Additional Sessions Judge Kawaljir Singh made it clear that observations made in the bail order shall not be construed as an expression on the merits of the main case.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
August 12, 2021 8:50:55 am
Court has ordered Joshi to be released on bail on furnishing of bonds of Rs 50,000. (Representational)

A Ludhiana-based businessman, who is a key accused in last year’s hooch tragedy that left more than 120 people dead in three districts, was granted bail by a Tarn Taran court as the special investigation team (SIT), which completed its probing in the case few months ago, could not find any substantial evidence against him.

Rajeev Joshi is the owner of RC Joshi and Company and was arrested for allegedly supplying three drums of methyl alcohol to two other accused – Ravinder Singh and Avtar Singh. The methyl alcohol was further used for preparing spurious illicit liquor, the police had said.

The Additional Sessions Judge Kawaljir Singh made it clear that observations made in the bail order shall not be construed as an expression on the merits of the main case. The order, however, has raised many serious questions on the Punjab Police investigation in the hooch tragedy.

“Investigation against the applicant is complete. During the entire investigation and interrogation of the applicant, no recovery of any spurious liquor or illicit liquor or any other material, used to distil illicit liquor or alcohol, has been affected to connect him with the incident in this case,” reads the bail order.

“There also is no other independent evidence collected to suggest if the applicant himself had been instrument in preparing the spurious liquor. Even the SIT could not find any call details of the applicant with other accused to show that he was actively involved with them. Also, SIT could not collect any evidence if the applicant had any knowledge that the methyl alcohol will be used for preparing spurious liquor or there was any meeting of applicant with other co-accused,” it further read.
After arresting Joshi last year, DGP Dinkar Gupta had said that the “accused had disclosed that he had supplied three drums of methanol (methyl alcohol)”, which was used to make the spurious alcohol.
DGP had said, “Arrest of Joshi has led the police to identify some more key people involved in the manufacture and distribution of spurious liquor, including the supply chain of methanol, which led to the deaths in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Batala.”

According to the DGP, the three drums were supplied by Joshi to Ravinder Singh and Avtar Singh and they were then sold to Satnam Singh of Pandori Gola village in Tarn Taran. Satnam and his family members then allegedly supplied the methanol-based illicit liquor to around a dozen distributors in the three districts.

Now, court has ordered Joshi to be released on bail on furnishing of bonds of Rs 50,000.
Earlier, Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted regular bail to the applicant in FIR No. 201, dated July 31, 2020 under Section 302, 328, 120-B IPC read with Section 61 of Excise Act, registered at Police Station City Batala and in FIR No109, dated July 30, registered under Sections 120-B, 201, 304 IPC and Section 61 of Punjab Excise Act at Police station Tarsika, District Amritsar.

Additional Public Prosecutor opposed the bail application and prayed its dismissal. However, bail order reads, “Investigating Officer, who is present in the court, conceded the fact that no recovery of illicit liquor was made from the applicant in this case during the investigation”.

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