Himachal PPE scam: Vigilance planned to nab both supplier and officer at the time of paying bribe
Anticipating an exchange of bribe, vigilance officials had deputed a team at the directorate of health to nab both “the supplier and the officer” before registering an FIR related to the alleged corruption in the purchase of PPE kits, according to the reply filed by the investigating officer before the court during the bail hearing of accused Dr A K Gupta. This has been revealed by the order passed by the special court here which granted bail to Gupta on Saturday.
According to the order, DSP Kailash Sharma said in his reply said that the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau got wind of the audio clip through a “source report”, and then verified it. “The bribe was likely to be delivered in the evening. A team was deputed to the directorate’s office at SDA Complex in Kasumpti to nab the supplier and the officer while delivering/accepting bribe”, after which the FIR was registered on May 20.
However, no exchange of bribe took place, the prosecution told the court, and only Gupta was arrested. Prithvi Singh, who works for the supplier Bioaide, told the vigilance that he had recorded the clip “a few weeks back” and then deleted it. He also denied delivering the bribe, Sharma said in his reply, adding that G S Kohli, owner of Bioaide Corporation, was telephonically questioned.
He also stated that after arrest, Gupta “manipulated the circumstances” to get hospitalised, and used a fellow patient’s phone in the hospital to call nine phone numbers, ncluding those of his colleagues.
Sharma said that five mobile phones connected with the case so far have been sent for forensic examination to the laboratory, and expert opinion is awaited. Information and records have also been sought from various banks regarding Gupta and his family’s bank accounts, he said.
In the bail application, Gupta’s counsel said that an extension of his service is under consideration by the state government due to the ongoing pandemic while Sharma said that no such proposal for grant of extension is under consideration.
“In the present case, the learned public prosecutor has candidly submitted that as of date, the only evidence incriminating the accused is the audio clip wherein the accused is reflected as demanding a bribe of Rs. 5 lakh. There is no evidence that the alleged bribe money was paid to the accused. However, further interrogation in this regard is stated to be required,” special judge Arvind Malhotra said in the order.
However, he added, any observation in the order is not a reflection on the merits of the case, and a detailed examination of evidence and merits is not required at the time of granting or refusing bail.
Malhotra said that presumption of innocence, that is innocent until proven guilty, is a fundamental postulate of criminal jurisprudence, and grant of bail is the general rule while putting a person behind bars is an exception.