The Lucknow bench —Hon’ble Dinesh Kumar Singh, J.— of the Allahabad High Court, on 7th August 2020 granted anticipatory bail to Sandeep Singh, the personal secretary of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. This case, (Sandeep Singh v. State Of U.P. Thru. Prin. Sect. Home. & Another), was in connection to the alleged forging of a list of 1,000 buses that the Congress Party arranged for the UP Government, to bring back the ferry migrant laborers, until the filing of the police report.
Facts of the Case
Around 1,000 buses were on offer for plying the migrant workers from the Ghaziabad – Noida border. As it came to light, the papers of 150 of 1000 vehicles were not in order. It was also found that a number of the sanctioned vehicles were autos, three-wheelers, ambulances, trucks, etc. It came to light that these vehicles did not have proper fitness certificates and other documents were also invalid. The police report further states that the Congress leaders did not obtain inter-state movement passes. Hence, this violates the regulations and guidelines issued by the Government.
An FIR was filed against Mr. Singh and UP Congress Chief, Ajay Kumar Lallu, who were subsequently booked under various sections of the IPC. Some of the prominent charges include those under Sections 177 (Furnishing false information), 182 (False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person), 336 ( An act endangering life or personal safety of others), 417 (Cheating), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 505 (1) (b) & (2) (Statements conducing to public mischief) read with Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) IPC. The FIR was filed in the Hazratganj Police station on 9th May 2020.
Mr. Lallu had been arrested and was sent to jail, but was later granted bail. Meanwhile, Mr. Singh had requested the court to pass an order of Anticipatory Bail to avoid arrest. This application was filed under Section 438 Cr.P.C. seeking anticipatory bail apprehending arrest in FIR No.145 of 2020, under charges filed as stated in the FIR.
Submissions before the Court
The Counsel for the Accused (Mr. Singh) challenges that he is merely a private Secretary of Ms. Vadra. Thus, he wrote letters to the Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Awanish Awasthi, Principal Secretary (Home), and the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Ultimately, it was Ms. Vadra, who on behalf of the Congress Party, offered buses for transporting the migrant workers during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Singh was merely conveying the messages and writing letters on her behalf as a part of his employment duties. Additionally, it is explicitly stated in the FIR that Ms. Vadra was not an Accused in question.
Observations of the Court
Looking at the triviality of the offense and nature of the allegations, the Court was inclined to admit Mr. Singh’s plea of anticipatory bail till filing of the police report. The Court allowed Mr. Singh’s plea.
In their order, they observed that if arrested, the Applicant should be released on bail, on furnishing a personal bond. The amount set for the bond is Rs.1,00,000 and two sureties of a similar amount. The Bench further stated that he should co-operate in the investigation without causing any misdeeds.
In the end, Mr. Singh was granted bail with the following conditions. First, the Applicants shall make themselves available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required. Second, the Applicants shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case to dissuade them from disclosing such facts to the Court or any police officer. Finally, the Applicants shall not leave India without the previous permission of the Court.
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