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Punjab and Haryana High Court denies Anticipatory Bail to CGST official involved in Bribery Case [Read Order]

Anticipatory Bail - CGST - Bribery Case - Punjab and Haryana High Court - Taxscan

The Punjab and Haryana High Court denied the anticipatory bail to the Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) official, Gurvinder Singh Sohal involved in Bribery Case.

The Petitioner prayed to the High Court for the grant of anticipatory bail in FIR registered under Section 120-B IPC and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (amended in 2018) at Police Station, CBI ACB, Chandigarh.

Earlier, the petitioner applied for the anticipatory bail at the special CBI Court, wherein the application for the bail was rejected on the grounds that custodial interrogation of the applicant-accused is very much necessary in the interest of investigation.

It was submitted that the petitioner and the other officials, in compliance of a public notice issued by the department that the hand-sanitizers are taxable at 18% GST, conducted a raid in the premises of complainant Manoj Kalra and the complainant was found evading 6% tax of GST, therefore, he was directed to pay the tax and in that process, the complainant has falsely trapped the petitioner and the other accused.

As per the allegations of CBI, the petitioner and the other officials had raided the premises of the complainant and on that day the petitioner pressured the complainant to pay Rs.9 Lakhs as bribe.

The argument raised by the counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner has been falsely implicated on account of a raid conducted by him for checking the difference of 6% GST to be paid by the complainant is a matter of evidence.

The court noticed that as per the CCTV footage, the complainant was keeping a polythene bag of Rs.3 lakhs as bribe in the car of the petitioner, where the petitioner, along with three other co-accused was present.

Further, it was noted that the complainant made a complaint to CBI, he was asked to visit the office of the petitioner by putting a spy camera in his shirt and as per the recording of the conversation between the petitioner and the complainant, regarding the payment of balance amount when the complainant asked the petitioner to reduce the amount of bribe, the petitioner replied in negative and stated that whatever is fixed, is fixed as the amount is to be paid to the higher officials. Even the complainant was asked not to talk much about the payment of money in the office.

The presence of petitioner, along with co-accused Kuleep Hooda at the place where the CBI has planned a trap is proved from the fact that the petitioner while driving his own car reached at the spot and after the amount of Rs.6 lakhs was handed over to co-accused Kuldeep Hooda, he sensing some problem threw the bag on the back seat of the car and escaped away from the moving car.

Later on, the petitioner abandoned his car near Big Mama Confectionery Shop on Delhi-Chandigarh Highway and from the car, the marked currency of Rs.6 lakhs was recovered by the CBI official in the presence of the independent witnesses.

The single-judge bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan in the light of an undisputed fact that co-accused Kuldeep Hooda was arrested on the next day and a huge unaccounted amount of Rs.64 lakhs was recovered from his house, found no ground to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner.

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