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Monday, September 27, 2021

Noose tightens as court denies bail to ex-DGP Saini in corruption case

Court says case registered only after detailed inquiry by Vigilance Bureau; Saini’s custodial interrogation needed

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 8, 2021 4:42:11 am
Mohali court issues arrest warrant against ex-DGP Sumedh SainiThe official added that the September 2020 case, in which Saini has been booked, pertains to period after which the IPS officer had retired.

A special court in Mohali Saturday rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in a disproportionate assets case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau.

Saini is one of the seven accused in the case registered under Prevention of Corruption Act (2018 amendment), and sections 109 and 120 B of the IPC in Mohali.

Mohali special judge Parminder Singh Grewal, while rejecting the anticipatory bail, observed that the case was registered after a detailed inquiry by Vigilance Bureau. The judge held that complaint lodged by Varinder Singh Brar, Joint Director (Vigilance Bureau), was based on documents.

The court ordered that custodial interrogation of the 1982-batch IPS officer was required to probe the case. The court did not buy argument of Saini’s counsel, Senior Advocate APS Deol, that he had been granted bails in three cases registered against him after his June 30, 2018 retirement – Balwant Singh Multani abduction and disappearance case dating back to May 2020; Kotkapura police firing incident of 2015, where another case was registered in August 2018; and Behbal Kalan police firing case of 2015 where Saini was added as an accused in October 2020. The court noted that “the parameters for grant of anticipatory bail in every criminal case are to be decided on the basis of the peculiar alleged facts and this court is of the considered view that the allegations against the petitioner in this case are gravest in nature, which disentitles him to be released on anticipatory bail”.

Deol argued that the former DGP had “an outstanding service record… took active part in counter terrorism and anti-insurgency operations… and is a decorated officer”

The court, however, while pointing out to the alleged shady financial transactions and deals after his retirement, noted “the highest standards of rectitude and honesty are expected from the highly decorated officer.”

Saini’s counsel also argued that he had been a target of anti-national and terrorist elements, that two attempts were made on him, that Saini did not accept any reward money for the arrest and elimination of terrorists and declined compensation when his parental house was burnt by the terrorists. Deol said that Saini led the police operations at Dinanagar police station as the DGP in the year 2015, where three Pakistani fidayeens were killed; unearthed various scams and scandals in 2002 including Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) scam; and as head of state’s VB from 2012 to 2015, “a number of criminal cases were registered against members of the political party, which is now in power in Punjab”. He argued that Saini performed his duties without fear or favour and “cases involving loss to exchequer of over Rs 1500 crore, abuse of official positions to give pecuniary advantage to favoured persons and tampering with record of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, amassing assets disproportionate to known sources of income and routing of ill gotten wealth through private companies/shell companies were registered against the present Chief Minister.”

The court, however, dismissed the arguments. “State has always stood by him as the petitioner is a categorized Z plus protectee. The alleged contribution made by the petitioner during the tenure of his police service was the part of his official duties and does not give (him) a license or permit to indulge in shady financial transactions or deals as alleged in the FIR,” the court noted.

House No. 3048

House No. 3048 in Chaindgarh’s Sector 20-D, where Saini is residing, was ordered to be attached by a court in Mohali last month following the Vigilance Bureau investigations into an earlier FIR dating back to September 17 last year.

On September 17 last year, the Vigilance Bureau had registered a case against World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) Estates Pvt Ltd, Nimrat Deep Singh, an executive engineer with Public Works Department (Buildings and Construction), and his father Surinderjit Singh Jaspal in Mohali under various sections including Section 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), section 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (fraudulently or dishonestly using as genuine as any document which is believed to be forged), 120-B (conspiracy) of IPC and sections of Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly getting agriculture land including area lying in natural choe certified as regular residential colony.

As per the VB investigations, Jaspal purchased the Sector 20 house from the “proceeds of crime money”, which Saini first took on rent in October 2018 and then entered into agreement to sell with the owner to purchase the house.

Apart from Saini, Nimrat Deep and Jaspal, the FIR registered by the VB on August 2 this year named four others – Ajay Kaushal, Parduman Singh, Paramjit Singh and Amit Singla.

Saini in his submission to the court contended that he was not involved in any wrongdoing nor knew of the alleged wrongdoings committed by the house owners and WWICS Estates Pvt Limited. He claimed to be a genuine purchaser of the house, who first entered into rent agreement with the owner in October 2018 and subsequently in an agreement to sell, where he settled for buying the 2-kanal house for Rs 10.25 crore.

August 2 FIR

As per the August 2 VB FIR, during the “check period” between April 1, 2004 to December 10, 2020, Nimrat Deep and his family members were found to have as many as 35 movable and immovable properties, including house No. 3048 in Sector 20-D where Saini is residing.

The FIR added that Nimrat Deep’s father rented out first floor of the house to Saini at Rs 2.5 lakh as per a rent agreement dated October 15, 2018, which was valid for 11 months.

As per the rent agreement, the FIR noted, total rent for 11 months worked out to be Rs 27.5 lakh, “but even before the rent agreement came into affect”, Saini paid Rs “40 lakh as security and paid an advance rent of Rs 5 lakh for two months, totalling Rs 45 lakh”.

Besides this, between August 2018 and August 2020, Saini deposited Rs 6.4 crore in the bank account of Jaspal through various transactions “which was not as per the terms and conditions in the rent deed”.

“By September 27, 2019, an amount of Rs 2 crore was deposited in the bank account of the house owner from the bank account of tenant,” read the FIR, adding that to “justify the financial transaction, Nimrat Deep Singh and his father entered into an agreement on October 2, 2019 with Saini after deliberations.”

The FIR noted that the said agreement was “unregistered” and there was “no witness account”. It added that the agreement only had signatures of the seller and the buyer. The FIR further said that the rent agreement affected earlier was registered on e-stamp paper and was endorsed by two witnesses.

“It clearly shows that Nimrat Deep Singh Singh, his father Surinderjit Singh Jaspal and so called tenant/buyer Sumedh Singh Saini connived with other to enter into agreement dated October 2, 2019 in back date in a fraudulent manner to justify the stay of Saini,” read the FIR.

The Mohali court on Friday while referring to financial transactions worth Rs 6.4 crore made by Saini from his bank account to that of Nimrat Deep and Jaspal between August 23, 2018 to August 3, 2020, noted that while the former DGP claimed to have “no acquaintances with Nimrat Deep and Jaspal” before executing the rent agreement on October 18, 2018 and agreement to sell on October 2, 2019, it came on record that he made payments of Rs 45 lakh to the duo’s bank accounts starting from August 23, 2018, till October 10, 2018. Saini had contended that ha had met Nimrat Deep and Jaspal only at the time of signing of rent agreement in October 2018 and agreement to sell in October 2019.

As per VB, Nimrat Deep and his family members “amassed 35 properties having the alleged approximate market value of about Rs 100 crore as disproportionate assets to the known sources of his income as a government officer”.

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