AMID THE controversy surrounding the sudden replacement of Chhattisgarh Advocate General Kanak Tiwari, who claimed that he had not resigned after the new appointment was announced, the spotlight has turned to cases and investigations initiated by the Congress government against the previous BJP regime and its officers.
Records show that in two of these cases, the accused, including former chief minister Raman Singh’s son-in-law Dr Punit Gupta, were able to obtain anticipatory bail. In a third case, the court stayed the arrest of the accused. In another, the court stayed the setting up of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) itself.
When contacted, Tiwari, who was replaced by Satish Chandra Verma five days ago, claimed that the government showed “undue haste” in such cases, often instituting SITs without consulting him. He also claimed these differences were the key to his removal.
According to Tiwari, he advised the government that the cases being built were weak, and characterised many of them as having faced “setbacks in court”.
However, the new AG Verma said: “These are all part of the judicial process. I cannot say more. But nobody should scandalise the process.”
Consider the four key cases registered against those linked to the previous BJP government:
* In February, days after the government instituted an SIT into the Antagarh tape case, an FIR was registered by police on a complaint from Congress leader Kiranmayee Nayak. In April, the accused, including Manturam Pawar, the Congress candidate who had backed out of an election allegedly because of financial gain, Dr Punit Gupta, and former minister Rajesh Munat got anticipatory bail.
* In March, police filed another case against Dr Gupta, the former superintendent of the new DKS Government Super Speciality Hospital in Raipur, for alleged financial irregularities in the running of the hospital on a complaint from the new superintendent Dr K K Sahare. The FIR was also based on a three-member probe panel report. On April 25, Dr Gupta received anticipatory bail from the Chhattisgarh High Court.
* In January, government instituted an SIT into the alleged PDS scam, under the aegis of controversial IPS officer S R P Kalluri. In February, the SIT registered an FIR against the previous officer of the Economic Offences Wing, ADG Mukesh Gupta, and the then SP Rajnesh Singh for alleged illegal phone tapping in connection to the case.
Gupta has long been at odds with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. In the days after the registration of the FIR, an inspector,
R K Dubey, whose statement was used in the FIR, sought protection from court, arguing that he was under duress from the new SIT. In May, Gupta and Singh were granted a stay on arrest, with the High Court ordering them to cooperate in the probe.
* The most glaring instance, however, is a case against former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Aman Singh, who was accused of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In the Chhattisgarh High Court, Singh’s lawyers moved for a stay on the SIT, arguing that it was not based on an FIR or investigation. Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra granted the stay while stating that he was “convinced that the present is a case where ad interim relief is required to be granted in favour of the petitioner”.
Former AG Tiwari said: “In some cases of SITs, the advice of the Attorney General was not taken on board. You cannot have an SIT for everything. As a senior designated advocate and advocate general, I had repeatedly sent messages that these cases are being built in haste, and will face setbacks in court. That is what has happened,” Tiwari said.
A senior government official, however, said Tiwari’s remarks were “unwarranted” and “unfair.” “Since when is bail for an accused, a judgment on the case? In many cases, arguments on merit have barely started. There are very strong cases, and while there may be some loopholes, those can be corrected over the judicial process. There has been no acquittal in any case, and to call any of these bail hearings as a setback is going too far,” the official said.