A JAIPUR court Friday rejected an application by the Rajasthan government to withdraw corruption cases against a serving bureaucrat and two former officials, including one currently serving as advisor at the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), which is headed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot.
Chargesheets had been filed against the three — G S Sandhu, former IAS officer now with the RCA; retired Rajasthan Administrative Service officer Nishkam Diwakar; and serving state service officer Onkar Mal Saini — in 2015 and 2016, when the BJP was in power. The charges date back to 2010-2011, when Sandhu was a Principal Secretary and Diwakar a Deputy Secretary in the Urban Development and Housing Department. Saini was at the time Deputy Commissioner, Jaipur Development Authority.
“The Sessions Court in Jaipur for hearing of Prevention of Corruption cases today rejected the government’s application… regarding withdrawal of the cases,” advocate Sandesh Khandelwal, counsel for petitioner Ram Sharan Singh, said, adding they argued before the court that the move was “not in public interest”.
Apart from being an adviser to the RCA, Sandhu incidentally is back with the Urban Development and Housing Department as adviser. He was appointed earlier this year.
As per the chargesheets filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau in July 2016, the officials were part of a “criminal conspiracy” to allot land belonging to a housing society to a private construction company. The three were arrested, but subsequently granted bail. The allotment was made in June 2011 and cancelled in May 2013 by the then Congress government.
In July 2019, after Gehlot returned to power, Sandhu and Diwakar made a representation to the government. The Urban Development and Housing Department set up a committee which recommended withdrawal of cases against them. The state then filed an application, on January 19, 2021, recommending that the cases be withdrawn.
The Gehlot government noted that the three were not named in the original complaint, preliminary inquiry, or FIR, and that neither did any person benefit nor was anyone harmed. It also said that the ACB had filed the chargesheet against Sandhu, a public servant, without taking prosecution sanction. Urban and Housing Minister Shanti Dhariwal said that at the time the three bureaucrats were framed by the BJP government, as they had refused to accept “sifarish (recommendations)”.
Sandhu’s counsel S S Hora said they were waiting for a detailed copy of court order. “If the rejection is on technical grounds, then nothing stops the government from removing the lacunae and re-filing it. If it has been rejected on merits, then a revision appeal can be filed before High Court.”
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Deep MukherjeeDeep Mukherjee is a senior correspondent based in Jaipur. He covers Ra… read more