New Delhi: A special CBI court in Jammu on Tuesday refused to grant interim bail to Hilal Rather, son of a former Jammu and Kashmir minister, in the Rs 177 crore bank fraud case rejecting his fears of contracting COVID-19 and noting that he is more at risk outside the prison.
While rejecting the application, the Special CBI Judge Rajesh Sekhri also noted that in the prevailing situation, he is more likely to contract the virus if he moves of the jail, and his release may frustrate the purpose behind the lockdown.
Rather had moved an application using WhatsApp on medical grounds before the Special CBI judge, Jammu seeking interim bail after the CBI filed a charge sheet against him in the Rs 177-crore J&K Bank loan fraud case, citing the prevailing threat of contracting coronavirus during incarceration, the officials said.
Terming the allegations of the CBI as fallacious , concocted and imaginary , Rather had sought release on bail citing his health condition which makes him “more susceptible to contract coronavirus infection in unhygienic conditions in jail.”
“…health condition of the petitioner is being monitored, on a regular basis by courts and the jail authorities. Therefore, release of the convalescent petitioner in these pandemic situation may otherwise have deleterious effect on his health and frustrate the purpose behind the lockdown,” Special Judge Sekhri said.
He also directed the jail authorities to “ensure proper hygiene” in general, and in particular where Rather has been lodged.
The CBI strongly countered his arguments submitting that Rather, son of former Jammu and Kashmir minister Abdul Rahim Rather, is more likely to be infected if he moves out of the jail.
The Government of India has announced a complete lockdown and restricted all forms of movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the agency said.
The agency argued that releasing Rather on bail on health ground will be against the spirit of the lockdown, putting him and fellow citizens at risk, the officials said.
The CBI also said he was discharged by PGI, Chandigarh in a stable condition and there is nothing on record to suggest that he requires any special treatment or hospitalisation for any illness.
Dismissing the application, the court observed that the medical record submitted by the accused bears testimony to the effect that the petition was discharged in a stable condition.
Agreeing with the arguments of the agency and relying on the Supreme Court judgement in Asaram case, the special judge rejected the interim bail application filed by Rather.
“I find force in the submission of the prosecution that given the condition of the accused and the prevailing situation, he is more likely to contract the virus if he moves out of jail,” the judge said.
The CBI had charge sheeted Rather and others in connection with the Rs 177-crore bank fraud scam within 10 days of taking over the case.
In the charge sheet filed before the Special Court, Jammu, the CBI has also named the then branch heads of J and K Bank, New University Campus branch, Iqbal Singh and Arun Kapoor as accused, they said.
The CBI has alleged that Rather entered into a criminal conspiracy with the then officials of the Bank to get loans of Rs 177.68 crore (approx) in violation of rules and guidelines.
“The loans that were sanctioned for construction of flats were allegedly diverted and misappropriated by the accused using the bank accounts of his employees. It was further alleged that the accused submitted forged certificates and bills to the bank,” a CBI spokesperson said here.
The allegations were denied by Rather’s family after the agency filed an FIR in the case.
A statement issued by legal counsel of Rather had said having failed in its primary task of holding public officials accountable, the agency (JK ACB) is trying to give a different colour to the case by resorting to canards and false accusations