Trial not likely to conclude soon; lack of evidence to prove corruption: Read why Punjab and Haryana High granted bail to Vijay Singla

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While dealing with a corruption case, Lisa Gill, J., allowed the bail petition preferred by the petitioner against the trial upon FIR dated 24-05-2022 and held that as the trial is not likely to conclude in the near future, no useful purpose would be served by keeping the petitioner incarcerated.

The FIR was registered under Sections 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on the statement of one serving Superintendent Engineer of the Punjab Health System Corporation.

Facts:

The petitioner is a dentist by profession and also is an elected representative member of the Legislative Assembly in the State of Punjab. At the time of FIR, he was holding the portfolio of the Minister of the Department of Health. As per the FIR, the Officer on Special Duty (‘OSD’) with the petitioner called the complainant to set up a meeting with the petitioner. Due to some hurry, the petitioner left the meeting telling the complainant that whatsoever is told by the OSD be deemed to be said by the petitioner.

Arguments:

The counsel for the petitioner submits that due to this falsely implicated FIR, the image of the petitioner is tarnished, and his popularity is diminished. He submits that the allegations in the FIR do not constitute an offence. He also contends that the allegations are unsubstantiated by any evidence and the entire case is set up. He contends that the entire case is based on the telephonic conversation between a person who claims to be the OSD of the petitioner and the complainant. He also submits that the petitioner has been in custody since 24-05-2022. He points out that the complainant has never asked for recovery and neither has he sought it in this case. It was brought to the notice of the Court that the petitioner has no criminal history.

The respondent contended that the OSD, in the meeting, asked for a huge amount which the complainant refused to pay as he did not have that much money and agreed upon a sum that he could arrange to save himself from harassment. The complainant also stated that he was threatened to the extent that his career would be spoiled if he refused to pay the money. The complainant also mentioned that he is about to get retired, so not to spoil it and put such a person on deputation who agrees to pay the bribe amount. Hence, the complainant through this to take action against the petitioner and the OSD.

Observation and Analysis:

The Court observed that there is no reference to any evidence on record except for the said conversation. On the information given by the Advocate General, Punjab, the Court observed that the investigation is complete, and it is verified that the petitioner does not have any criminal record. Hence, the Court while allowing this petition held that the trial is not likely to conclude in the near future and no useful purpose would be served by keeping the petitioner incarcerated any longer.

[Vijay Singla v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 1858, decided on 08-07-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioners: Mr. Vinod Ghai, Senior Advocate, assisted by

Ms. Kanika Ahuja, Advocate

Ms. Kirti Ahuja, Advocate

Mr. Edward Augustine George, Advocate

Ms. Mahima Dogra, Advocate

For the Respondent: Dr. Anmol Rattan Singh, Advocate General, Punjab, assisted by

Mr. V.G. Jauhar, Senior DAG, Punjab

Mr. Pratham Sethi, Advocate.

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