5-year prison term for former excise official in graft case

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) A court here on Monday sentenced a former official of central excise to five years in jail and ordered departmental action against three other excise officials who were also prosecution witnesses in the case but resiled later.

CBI Special Judge Vinod Kumar awarded a five-year jail term to the then Central Excise Superintendent Lallan Ojha, 61, and asked him to pay a fine of Rs 30,000 after convicting him of criminal conspiracy and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The allegation against Ojha was that he took illegal gratification from businessmen Dalip Aggarwal and Anand Aggarwal over an unauthorised raid at Aggarwal’s business premises in December 2011.

The court also ordered departmental action against three other officials who were prosecution witnesses (PWs) in the case, observing that they were members of the fraudulent raid conducted by Ojha.

“From the record of this case, it appears that S.K. Singh, prosecution witness (PW 12), Sunil Kumar, (PW 21) and K.N. Srivastava (PW 29) were also members of the fraudulent raid under the leadership of convict Lallan Ojha and they even knew the nature of the raid,” the court said.

“Although they had been cited as prosecution witnesses probably with a view that they may disclose everything before the court, they did not live up to the expectations of the prosecution and even resiled from their statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” the court added.

The court further said: “At least departmental action should be initiated against them for dereliction of duty.”

The CBI has alleged that one Hemant Gandhi was acting as a middleman for accused Central Excise Commissioner A.K. Srivastava and Ojha.

They had conspired to conduct an unauthorised raid on the business premises of Dalip Aggarwal and Anand Aggarwal.

They had negotiated with the Aggarwals for illegal gratification for not taking any action after the raid and made an initial demand of Rs 2 crore which was ultimately finalised at Rs 60 lakh, the chargesheet said.

The court acquitted the Aggarwals, observing that they were the victims of a fear psychosis created by the accused through the unauthorised raid.

Gandhi is on the run while Srivastava was discharged in the case.

–IANS

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