The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday granted bail to Mansa district planning committee chairman and former MLA Mangat Rai Bansal, who was convicted and sentenced by the trial court to seven-year-imprisonment in the 14-year-old paddy scam.
Congress-turned-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bansal was convicted by the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI's) special court at Patiala on April 20 along with 23 others, including three officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and rice millers of Mansa. All were accused for their role in the procurement and supply of substandard paddy.
Bansal, who had won the 2007 Punjab assembly elections from Budhlada in Mansa district on the Congress ticket, is at present in the central jail, Patiala. After losing the 2012 assembly elections on the Congress ticket from Maur Mandi to the SAD's Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Bansal had joined SAD in September 2012 and was later appointed chairman of the district planning committee.
The CBI had registered an FIR in the case in September 1993 under sections 420 (cheating) and 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act after the Punjab and Haryana high court had directed the investigation agency to probe the case. Others who were granted bail by the high court on Monday include Raj Kumar, Pawan Kumar Singla, Tarsem Chand and Surinder Kumar. As on date, all accused are on bail.
The court headed by justice Sabina granted bail on the ground that three months' period had passed after the conviction of the accused. The court also observed that the decision on the appeal filed against the Patiala special CBI court's judgment would take time in the high court.
The counsel representing the accused had submitted that the Patiala court had let free one of the accused, Parminder Singh, on the same allegations as those levelled against his clients. The counsel had also argued that the CBI had failed to prove that the rice samples were substandard.