The Delhi High Court has refused to quash a city court’s order to try S M Batra,a former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Haryana Governor,for allegedly bribing a relative of the then Urban Development minister Shiela Kaul in 1994 to procure a no-objection certificate for a housing society.
“I find neither any illegality in the order nor any abuse of the process of the court,warranting interference of this court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction. The petition is
dismissed,” Justice Mukta Gupta said.
“The petitioner (Batra) has been charged for the offence under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. “From the statement of the witness on record,it is apparent that Batra was a conspirator in demand and handing over the money to the son-in-law of the then minister for her to perform the official function of granting NOC to the society,” the court said.
Earlier,a lower court,in 2003,had framed charges against Batra and others under the IPC and the PCA for offences of hatching criminal conspiracy,paying bribe and abusing his official position to gain illegal benefits. The CBI,in its charge sheet,had alleged that Batra had entered into a conspiracy during December 1993 to May 1994 to obtain illegal gratification for a public servant to provide a no-objection certificate to Jagjiwan Co-operative House Building Society Limited at Vasant Kunj in South Delhi. Aggrieved by the lower court’s order,Batra had moved the high court seeking setting aside of criminal charges against him,saying there was no specific allegation against him of misusing his official position.
The CBI had also alleged that Batra,along with his accomplice Anup Kumar Srivastava,had induced the office bearers of the Society to pay Rs 30 lakhs to Ratan Kaul,the son-in-law of Shiela Kaul for obtaining the NOC. It alleged Batra took office bearers of the Society to the residence of the minister where initially Rs 5 lakh was given to Ratan Kaul for the purpose.
Despite the fact that no NOC was issued,the Housing Society was pressed to pay the remaining bribe of Rs 25 lakhs,it said. Batra claimed that the entire operation was carried out by Anup Shrivastava,who was then close to the Kauls.
“He (Batra) was a stranger and was neither close to the family of Sheila Kaul nor had any role to play in the matter,” Batra’s lawyer said.
Brushing aside Batra’s contentions,the court said,”It is apparent that the demand of money to be paid to Ratan Kaul was made by Batra along with the co-accused. Further at the time,the money was given,Batra was present along with Anup
Shrivastava at the residence of the minister. From the statement of the witness,it cannot be said that there is no evidence against Batra. Prima facie there is sufficient evidence on record for framing charge against Batra.”