Chhattisgarh PDS rip-off | ED to SC: Sitting HC Judge in contact with accused through officers


SEEKING TRANSFER of the investigation associated to the alleged Nagrik Apurti Nigam (NAN) rip-off in Chhattisgarh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) advised the Supreme Court on Monday that “a sitting judge of the High Court was in touch with constitutional authorities who were helping the accused”.

Two senior IAS officers, Anil Tuteja and Alok Shukla, are amongst these charged within the alleged multi-crore NAN rip-off which emerged in 2015, throughout the earlier BJP authorities in Chhattisgarh. A probe was launched following allegations of corruption within the public distribution system — NAN is the company answerable for distribution and procurement of foodgrains.

“Please go through the material. If this comes out in public domain, it might shake people’s faith in the system because of individuals involved… A sitting judge of the High Court was in touch with constitutional authorities who were helping the accused… Would Your Lordships like to make it public,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was showing for the ED, advised a bench led by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit, because the counsel for the state authorities took objection to submission of fabric in a sealed cowl.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, showing for the respondents, stated a choose was not above the legislation.

Mehta stated he was leaving the choice to the court docket, including, “I will not oppose if it is to be made public”. He stated the ED had materials which confirmed that the prime accused within the case “were in touch with a constitutional functionary through an intermediary before being granted anticipatory bail” within the corruption circumstances in opposition to them.

“It has emerged that a senior functionary of the government of Chhattisgarh” is “actively involved in weakening of the predicate offence, i.e. case of corruption, against both the prime accused during the trial” and the accused “continues to occupy senior administrative position in the present government and continues to look after General Administration Department,” he stated.

Listing different prices, together with tampering of paperwork, influencing witnesses, and intimidation of the officer who granted sanction for prosecution of the accused, Mehta stated: “When I (ED) realised” that two of the accused “were in close contact with the two constitutional functionaries who played a role in grant of anticipatory bail and I (ED) came to know they are preparing typed statements of the witnesses to be filed, I (ED) moved this court”.

The SC issued discover in December 2021, however the matter didn’t come up for listening to after that although he had talked about it “not less than six times” and filed written notes “not less than 10 times” saying the trial was continuing and the matter was getting infructuous, stated Mehta.

Countering the submissions, Rohatgi stated: “You have read this out to prejudice my case. But you don’t file the material. This is not material which can be kept back from me if you are going to rely on it”. He stated there are SC judgements in opposition to adopting the sealed cowl process.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal stated the chargesheet within the case was filed when the BJP authorities was in energy within the state, and no recent investigation was carried out below the Congress authorities. He stated if the ED information materials in sealed cowl, the state would additionally like to put on document some proof regarding 2011.

Allowing the 2 sides to put the fabric earlier than it, the bench, additionally comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Ajay Rastogi, stated: “In case we find the material can be made public, we will certainly give the copies to the other side. At this point of time, it appears that the submission was made that the investigation needs to be transferred and this court issued notice in November 2021. We are in the month of September which means 10 months have gone by. So therefore in our view, before we allow the trial to conclude, at least we must apply our mind whether we accept or not accept this submission.”

The court docket added: “We are not saying, at this stage, anything about the trial being suspended, transferred etc, but… before the trial concludes and the judgement is delivered, we must at least make an attempt to see whether there is any substance in what the other side is saying and whether it requires any consideration”.

Appearing for an intervenor, Advocate Prashant Bhushan stated the “investigation leaves much to be desired” and requested for the probe to be transferred to an impartial company and monitored by a reliable court docket.

The SC will hear the matter subsequent on September 26.

The alleged multi-crore NAN rip-off had emerged in 2015, throughout the earlier BJP authorities in Chhattisgarh, when civil society and the Opposition had raised allegations of corruption within the public distribution system. Rice millers and brokers had been alleged to have paid kickbacks to officers to permit substandard rice to be distributed by the state’s PDS.

The authorities had then began a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Economic Offences Wing (EOW). Senior IAS officers Anil Tuteja and Alok Shukla had been amongst these charged within the alleged rip-off. While Shukla was then the NAN chairman, Tuteja was its managing director.

Within days of the Congress coming to energy in December 2018, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel introduced the formation of an SIT. Shukla and Tuteja, who had been absconding after the chargesheet was filed, utilized for anticipatory bail and had been appointed within the authorities. While Shukla, who was as a result of retire, bought an extension and is posted as principal secretary in numerous departments together with schooling and ability growth, Tuteja is joint secretary within the commerce and industries division.

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In August 2020, the Chhattisgarh High Court granted them anticipatory bail, which the ED has now challenged within the SC. In its petition, the ED has stated that “both these prime accused persons wield substantial political and administrative power and are very close to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, State of Chhattisgarh.”

In its affidavit to the Supreme Court in September 2021, the ED had stated it had “cogent evidence” that the present authorities helped the 2 principal accused by placing stress on officers investigating the case and “sharing the relevant and confidential information of investigation carried on by EOW/ACB with the prime accused and navigating investigation/report by the SIT as per desires of both the prime accused”.





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