Madhya Pradesh High Court: Anand Pathak, J. dismissed an application for bail which was filed by the applicant, who had been arrested on 03-02-2022 for offence punishable under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 201, 120-B of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 7, 13(1) & 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
It was alleged that Chief Executive Officer of Janpad Panchayat, Sironj (‘Applicant’) misused his official position and embezzled an amount of Rs. 30,68,37,000/- (Rs. Thirty Crores Sixty Eight Lacs Thirty Seven Thousand) on pretext of 6021 marriages allegedly conducted by members of unorganized labour class under Vivah Sahayata Yojna (scheme promulgated by State Government) where every member of unorganized labour between age group of 18 to 60 if undergoes marriage then financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 51,000/- is given after due verification.
Counsel for the Applicant submitted that he was suffering confinement since 03-02-2022 and charge-sheet has already been filed, therefore, chance of tampering with evidence / witness was remote. It was further submitted that Applicant was facing false implication. It was submitted that only 18 families were pointed out to be beneficiaries and not a single penny had been transferred in the account of Applicant.
Counsel for the State on the other hand submitted that detailed charge-sheet indicated the role of Applicant; wherein, Applicant has given benefits of 18,52, 32,000/- during COVID period April, 2020 to May, 2021 and in total more than 6,000 beneficiaries alleged to have been benefited by the act of Applicant but on close scrutiny it was found that some people received the benefit; wherein, no children were eligible to be married. Some beneficiaries were not family of construction workers and in some of the cases, beneficiaries did not have any knowledge about the benefits given to them. Around 529 persons were those construction workers whose registrations were not made in Registration Portal and still got the benefit.
The Court observed that contents of FIR / narration in charge-sheet indicate that Applicant facilitated marriage of more than 6,000 persons in families of construction workers during the period April 2020 to May, 2021 but incidentally, said period was of lock-downs at major portion of time, therefore, occurrence of such large number of marriages in strict lockdown period itself creates doubt. It was further found that many beneficiaries were those who were not entitled for the same because of the fact that no member was going to be married during that period in their families nor many construction workers were registered at all at the portal and still got the benefits. Many more beneficiaries were those who never received the amount but on record they were paid the benefits of scheme to the tune of Rs. 51,000/- on each marriage.
It appears to be a big scam where crores of rupees were siphoned off on the pretext of giving benefit of विवाह सहायता योजना to poor construction workers. It is a white collar crime prima facie.
The Court held that it cannot be ruled out that some more members must be involved in commission of offence as names of two non-government employees who were working at the instance of Applicant have come up and there is a possibility that tampering of evidence/witness can take place. The application was dismissed.
[Shobit Tripathi v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 1270, decided on 09-06-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr Manish Dutt Sharma with Mr Prashant Sharma, Advocates, for the Applicant;
Mr Naval Kishore Gupta, Advocate, for the Respondent.
*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.