Read Order: Sumedh Singh Saini v. State of Punjab 

Vivek Gupta

Chandigarh, August 12, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted anticipatory bail to former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in a corruption case, subject to the condition of his joining investigation within one week from today. 

In the event of arrest, he shall be released on bail subject to his furnishing adequate bail bonds to the satisfaction of the Investigating Officer, the High Court said.

“He is directed to join the investigation as and when called for. He shall abide by the conditions as envisaged under Section 438(2) Cr.P.C. To ensure that the petitioner is not able to leave the country, he will surrender his passport if not already surrendered,” stated the bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan

On August 2, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and on charges of criminal conspiracy against the former DGP along with six others, including PWD executive engineer Nimratdeep Singh and his father Surinderjit Singh Jaspal.

The agency alleged that Saini acquired a house in sector 20, Chandigarh, that was owned by the PWD engineer’s father, in a fraudulent deal with fake documents and questionable financial transactions. The trial court had termed the allegations against him “gravest” in nature warranting his custodial interrogation.

The agency submitted before the HC that the case was registered after a detailed inquiry was conducted by the Vigilance Bureau on the Joint Director’s complaint and was based on certain documents.

Saini moved the High Court challenging the Mohali court’s decision that rejected his plea for anticipatory bail.

Deciding the matter, the bench stated that it is a trite law that while dealing with the application for grant of bail or anticipatory bail, elaborate discussion of the merits should be desisted. There should not be an impression to the parties concerned of the case having been pre-judged. Only prima facie cases are to be considered.

“Heard learned senior counsel(s) for the parties at length and perused the pleadings. It would not be appropriate at this stage to deal with the contentions raised by learned senior counsel for the petitioner of political vendetta and that the petitioner was granted protection in all other FIRs,” the Bench said. 

The bench said that the prayer for anticipatory bail is to be considered on the facts of each case, and that it is not a disputed fact that vigilance enquiry was initiated against the petitioner for having disproportionate assets to his known sources of income. 

“During enquiry, the rent agreement and agreement to sell off House No. 3048, Sector 20-D, Chandigarh surfaced. The nomination of the petitioner in the FIR is on the basis of two agreements and transactions between the petitioner and A2. The transactions making the foundation for naming the petitioner in the FIR are through a banking channel. There is an attempt by the petitioner to explain the sources of payments made to A2. There is an explanation put forth for receiving back an amount of Rs.75,00,000 by the petitioner from the seller. At this stage, this court exercises restraint for going any further into the said factual aspect,” the bench noted.

The bench further noted that the senior counsel for the State raised a doubt with regard to the genuineness of the agreement to sell and that there was a violation of the provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961 by not deducting TDS while making payment of monthly rent. 

“These issues including the factual aspect of exact amount received from the builder for the property at Delhi would be subject-matter during the trial. The veracity of the explanation of the petitioner for making advance payment of security before the date of agreement to sell would be tested in trial,” observed the bench.

The High Court added, “Taking conceptuous of the facts and circumstances, antecedents of the petitioner and that he is having Z-plus protection meaning thereby remains in a security cover, there is no chance of his absconding. Though there is an apprehension raised that the petitioner was ploughing back the black money but the allegations are based upon documentary evidence and the banking transactions. For joining loose ends, if any with regard to the documentary evidence or banking transactions, this court is of the opinion that custodial interrogation of the petitioner is not required. The petitioner is granted interim bail subject to his joining investigation within one week from today”.

The Court further said. “In the event of arrest, he shall be released on bail subject to his furnishing adequate bail bonds to the satisfaction of the Investigating Officer. He is directed to join the investigation as and when called for. He shall abide by the conditions as envisaged under Section 438(2) Cr.P.C. To ensure that the petitioner is not able to leave the country, he will surrender his passport if not already surrendered.Put up on 7.10.2021”.   

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