Construction scam: No anticipatory bail to 4 PWD engineers

A Delhi court has denied anticipatory bail to four PWD officials, accused of conspiring with a contractor in an alleged construction scam involving over Rs 3 crore, saying the allegations against them are serious.

Special Judge Sanjay Khanagwal, who last week rejected the bail of contractor Vinay Bansal in the matter and sent him to jail, rejected the plea of the four Public Works Department engineers and said they did not deserve protection of the court.

The four PWD officials – executive engineer Praveen Kumar Kathureea, assistant engineer Suresh Pal and junior engineers Baljeet Singh and Ashutosh Singh — are named along with Bansal, son of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s late brother-in-law Surender Bansal, in an FIR lodged by the Delhi Police’s Anti-Corruption Branch.

“It is true being public servants, any arrest by the investigating officer may not only affect their personal but social life as well but the offence alleged against the applicants is of serious nature where money has been paid from the public exchequer without properly checking the bills and monitoring the quality of construction work,” the judge said in his order yesterday.

Being public servants, he added, they may not flee from justice but the nature and gravity of accusation does not entitle them to protection of the court.

“Therefore, the present applications for grant of anticipatory bail are dismissed,” the judge said.

The FIR was lodged in May last year on a complaint by Rahul Sharma, the founder of Roads Anti-Corruption Organisation (RACO), for offences under sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and section 13 (1) (d) () of the Prevention of Corruption Act against all of them.

The complaint alleged that the four PWD engineers were supervising the construction work of a drain by Renu Constructions Company, owned by Bansal in partnership with his late father, and cleared the bills produced by the firm without proper verification.

It was alleged that the internal quality assurance team of PWD did not inspect the work despite the tender given to the contractor being 46 per cent below the estimated cost.

The accused officials, in their anticipatory bail plea, said they did not have any role in the awarding of tender and asserted that it was done through e-tendering in a fair manner.

They also claimed to have provided all necessary documents to the investigating officer since the lodging of the FIR last year.

The prosecutor, however, alleged that the accused PWD officials conspired with Renu Constructions and released a payment of Rs 3.10 crore without proper verification of the work done at the site and deliberately supported the contractor for undue pecuniary gains.

He also alleged that the accused did not provide correct information regarding Bansal’s association with the construction firm, of which he was a partner, because of which the investigation was delayed.

On May 17, the court refused to grant bail to Bansal, who was arrested by the Anti Corruption Branch, and sent him to judicial custody of 14 days.

The court had noted that the offences alleged against the accused were not only of cheating but also of preparation of forged and fabricated bill for the purpose of release of contract amount from the PWD.

Bansal has now approached the Delhi High Court for bail, which is pending.
RACO, an organisation which claims to monitor construction projects in the national capital, had alleged that a firm linked to Bansals was involved in financial irregularities in building a drainage system in north-west Delhi.

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