Agartala: A district and sessions court on Monday granted anticipatory bail until Wednesday to former PWD minsiter Badal Chowdhary after he was booked in an alleged scam of Rs 600 crore.
Following an FIR at the West Agartala police station under Sections 401, 420, 418, 102, 120 (b) of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act against Chowdhury, former chief engineer Sunil Bhowmik and former chief secretary YP Singh over the scam, the Tripura police had launched a series of search operations across the state.
The police conducted an operation in MLA hostel No. 2 looking for Chowdhury, house of CPI(M) leader Pabitra Kar and Chowdhury’s brother’s house but failed to trace him.
Later on, the police entered CPI(M) state party office around 2 pm with huge police force under the leadership of DCP Rinku Reang. However, CPI(M) leader Haripada Das and former minister Manik Dey stopped them as the officers failed to produce documents for the search operations.
Three DSPs including Druva Nath, Anirban Das, Manoj Das were also present at the CPI(M) state headquarters but the former minister lashed at them on not being able to produce the search warrant. The police team was later forced to return empty-handed from the party office.
West Tripura Superintendent of Police Ajit Pratap Singh said a case was registered with West Agartala police station charging Badal Choudhury, former PWD engineer-in-chief Sunil Bhowmik and former chief secretary Yashpal Singh.
“We shall investigate all aspects of this FIR. We can’t comment any further at this stage,” the officer said.
On the other hand, a group of lawyers including Purushottam Roy Barman, Sharadindu Chakraborty, Arindam Bhattacharjee, Haribal Debnath moved an anticipatory bail petition in the district and sessions court. After hearing the plea from the counsel of Badal Chowdhury, the court-ordered interim bail until further order at 2.45 pm keeping the order reserve till 5 pm in the evening, and later, the investigating officer, public prosecutor, was ordered to not arrest the former PWD minister until October 16.
Speaking with EastMojo, counsel of Chowdhury, Purushottam Roy Barman said it is unprecedented that the Tripura Police have tried to arrest the former minister without obtaining an arrest warrant from the court and entering into a party office with our search warrant. The police did not provide the FIR copy to the petitioner’s counsel till the time the interim bail petition was filed in the afternoon.
“We have got the interim bail with a bail bond of amount Rs 3 lakh from the court till the next hearing on Wednesday and we shall again meet the court on October 16 next fighting against the baseless charges imposed over the former minister,” he said.
Earlier the former minister was grilled thrice by the vigilance department related to the 2008-2009 works done under the PWD department. The vigilance in its report said that the estimated cost of Rs 638.30 crores was the total cost whereas the total cost put on the tender was RS. 866.44 crores i.e excess expenditure of over Rs 200 crore under ten packages was found which 47.20% higher than 10% which was approved by the council of ministers in 2008.
Meanwhile, former chief engineer Sunil Bhowmik was sent on one day of jail custody by the court after hearing a plea by the public prosecutor.