Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of all the accused, including Irrigation department officials, in the 1000-crore irrigation scam case and said “prima facie” it has been found they all had worked together for “unjust enrichment” of contractor Gurinder Singh “by creating a condition that the major contracts are awarded to the contractor and all other contractors are kept away”.
Justice A B Chaudhari in the judgment pronounced on Wednesday said the issue in the matter is also that the officials of the Irrigation department and the contractor had “straight away” put the state to a loss of extent of around 35 to 50 per cent of the contracts. The interim protection from arrest to the accused was also vacated by the bench.
Contractor Gurinder Singh, whose annual turnover allegedly jumped to 300 crore in 2016-2017 from 4.74 crore in the year 2006-2007, retired Chief Engineers Gurdev Singh Syan and Harvinder Singh, Executive Engineers — Gulshan Nagpal and Bajrang Lal Singla and Supervisor Vimal Sharma are the major accused in the case and had approached the High Court for anticipatory bail in September.
State government had told the High Court that the officials in connivance with the contractor for a number of years had adopted the procedure of making “tailor-made conditions” in the work tenders for Gurinder Singh and leaked the secret information related to the works even before the terms and conditions were being finalised.
“The perusal of the entire record and huge documents do show that the petitioners-officers had changed the terms and conditions of eligibility etc. in violation of the CVC guidelines and in violation of the terms and conditions set out by the technical advisory committee to which Gurdev Singh Syan himself was a party,” the High Court said in the judgment.
Senior Advocate, R S Cheema, who appeared on behalf of the accused contractor, had told the High Court that the FIR lodged by the Vigilance Bureau is “an exercise of mala fide nature and because of the change in the Government in Punjab. The petitioner contractor has been targeted merely because he worked as a contractor during the regime of the earlier government.”
The government had also told the High Court that 52 small different works in 2012 were clubbed into a single tender with an aim to allow the tender only to Gurinder Singh and “that too at huge rates and in that 308 works orders were issued”. The work was spread over to 22 villages, according to the investigation.
“This Court is convinced that there is prima facie evidence against all the petitioners and huge evidence is required to be collected by the investigating agency and that is possible only if the custodial interrogation is allowed and not otherwise. The plea for grant of anticipatory bail made by all the petitioners, therefore, will have to be turned down,” the final order reads.