Kerala

HC denies bail to T.O. Sooraj, two others

The court, however, grants bail to the third accused in Palarivattom flyover case

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail pleas of T.O. Sooraj, former Public Works Secretary; Sumeet Goyal, managing director, RDS Project Ltd; and M.T. Thankachan, former Additional General Manager, Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK), arraigned as fourth, first and second accused respectively in a corruption case registered in connection the construction of the Palarivattom flyover.

The court, however, granted bail to third accused Benny Paul, joint general manager of Kitco. Dismissing the bail petitions of Mr. Sooraj and others, Justice Sunil Thomas observed that prima facie there was material suggesting that there had been a dangerous compromise on the quality of work done, “which could be for pecuniary gain”. All the persons responsible were yet to be identified.

A wider and deeper conspiracy was involved and what was revealed till now “may only be the tip of the iceberg”.

Definitely, the investigation had to progress forward with determination and taken to its logical conclusion.

Opposing the bail petitions, A. Rajesh, special prosecutor for the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), submitted that the allegation against the accused was “extremely serious and an unparalleled one”.

He further submitted that the conspiracy originated even prior to the invitation of the tenders.

The case

The government had granted administrative sanction to construct a four-lane bridge at Palarivattom under the BOT scheme.

It included acquisition of land at an estimated amount of ₹72.6 crores.

It was not envisaged as an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC).

However, while tenders were invited, at some level it was decided to invite tenders without the acquisition of land and by the EPC without informing the government.

On the basis of the EPC, the contractor was given the freedom to design the flyover. Though the design was subject to the approval by experts, it permitted the contractor to design the bridge, even compromising on various structural factors of stability and utility to make it cost beneficial to the contractor, the prosecutor contended.

The special prosecutor also pointed out that interpolation in the tender opening register and in the original tender was patent and could be established with the opinion of the handwriting expert.

It was now being probed in depth, he added.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 8:21:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-denies-bail-to-to-sooraj-two-others/article29630536.ece

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