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Friday, December 8, 2023

Court releases seized properties of prime accused in Rs 1000 crore Irrigation Dept. scam

Contractor Gurinder Singh alias Bhappa, the main accused in the Rs 1000 crore Irrigation Department scam has succeeded in getting his 9 attached properties, having an estimated market value of over Rs 150 crore, released with a favourable order passed by Sessions Judge Harpal Singh, early this week.

The judge has accepted the accused contractor’s offer to deposit Rs 8.60 crore, the value of his share in the properties at the time of their attachment in 2019. The Vigilance Bureau assessed the total value of these properties at Rs 75.23 crore. The attachment was only to the extent of the share of Gurinder Singh.

The contractor pleaded that he along with his co-owners were facing “genuine issues” to deal with the properties as these could not be sold or rented out by his partners because of being attached to a corruption case against him.

The judge rejected the contention of the public prosecutor that these properties were purchased by Gurinder Singh in his name and the name of his close relatives with ill-gotten money.

The judge also rejected the VB’s plea that the value of the properties increased manifold over a while and that the sum of Rs 8.60 crore offered by the contractor was inadequate and meager. Moreover, the accused could not be allowed to use the properties during the pendency of his criminal trial.

The Judge weighed positively the contention of the counsel for the accused Gurinder Singh that he had to pay pending dues to the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) to the tune of Rs 16.73 lakh for having purchased an industrial plot in Mohali.

An independent senior lawyer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court when asked to comment on the Session Court’s order said that the VB was required to get the properties scientifically evaluated to know about their present-day market worth and place it before the judge. That could have at least led to some increase in the security deposit commensurate with the market rates.

The prosecution should have gone deeper into the relationship of the accused with all his co-owners and their sources of income to show that since they did not have the financial strength to partner in the purchase of the properties in question, hence all the money invested belonged to Gurinder Singh.

Understandably, the next course left for the VB is to move the High Court against the order of the Sessions Court.

This case was earlier pending in the court of Sessions Judge Parminder Singh Grewal but was transferred to the court of Sessions Judge Harpal Singh on the orders of the District and Sessions judge

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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