‘High ranking official also entitled to bail’, SC junks Chhattisgarh govt’s plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by Chhattisgarh government challenging bail granted to suspended Additional Director General of Police Gurjinder Pal Singh in a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, on the allegations of having disproportionate assets.

A vacation bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Hima Kohli observed that the Chhattisgarh government moving the apex court against the high court order is “nothing but a totally unwarranted exercise on behalf of the state.”

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Chhattisgarh government, contended that Singh inside the prison bribed the prison guard for a favour and alleged that he is indulging in tampering of evidence, while pointing out that he was a high-ranking officer in the police. Rohatgi urged the bench to cancel Singh’s bail.

However, the bench noted that while considering the bail application, the status of the applicant should not be considered. “As an ordinary citizen is entitled to his rights under the Constitution, equally a high-ranking officer can’t be denied bail…,” said the bench.

The bench noted that in the disproportionate assets case, where most of the evidence is documentary evidence, chances of tampering are bleak. The bench said the high court had already imposed stringent conditions while granting bail to Singh and dismissed the state government’s plea.

The Chhattisgarh government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the bail granted to Singh in a case filed against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The plea, filed through advocate Sumeer Sodhi, said: “The petitioner submits that the present case is not the one where the state apprehends that if the respondent is released, he might influence witnesses, in fact the present case is such where the respondent has in the past intimidated witnesses because of which the state had to provide police protection to such witnesses.”

The state government’s plea said the Chhattisgarh High Court was not correct in observing that Singh was a suspended police officer having no power. It further added that Singh’s conduct inside the jail was also questionable. “He was using his seniority in the police department in luring guards deployed inside the jail to act contrary to the jail rules and the law applicable therein and hence the regular bail application of the respondent ought to have been rejected by the High Court,” said the plea. The high court on May 12 granted bail to Singh.

In January, the Chhattisgarh Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested Singh, who is under suspension, and charged him with corruption, sedition, and promoting enmity.

On January 3, this year, the top court junked a plea by Singh, challenging the high court order, which denied him protection against arrest in a case under Prevention of Corruption Act.

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