Congress national general secretary Digvijaya Singh was granted bail soon after he surrendered in a city court on Saturday, a day after an arrest warrant was issued against him in the Vidhan Sabha recruitment scam.
The former chief minister obtained bail from additional district and sessions judge (first) Kashinath Singh on the presentation of a Rs 30,000 surety bond signed by local Congress leader Govind Goel.
Singh, who will celebrate his 69th birthday on Sunday, had to wait for over three hours in the company of senior party leaders – including brother Laxman Singh and state Congress chief Arun Yadav – for his bail application to be heard.
The case pertains to 17 allegedly fraudulent appointments that were made in the Vidhan Sabha between 1993 and 2003, when Singh was the chief minister. A chargesheet submitted before the court on Friday accused Singh of being involved in 13 such appointments.
The bail plea was moved before the court by Supreme Court lawyer Vivek Tankha, who submitted before the judge that Singh – a Rajya Sabha member – was a law-abiding citizen and has been cooperating fully with the state police in its investigation. He further submitted that as 26 other accused in the case had been granted bail, Singh should also be extended the same courtesy.
Prosecution counsel Anand Tiwari, for his part, told the court that he would honour whatever order was passed by the court. The next hearing was fixed for March 14.
According to Tankha, the defence told the court that the ruling dispensation in Bhopal had turned cabinet decisions from the past into criminality – setting a dangerous precedent. The senior lawyer said he submitted before the court that “they had the option of directly applying for bail in the high court, but his client insisted that he would surrender before the Bhopal court and then seek bail from the same court”.
Tankha also alleged before the court that the matter, harking back two decades, had been raked up by the state government in response to Singh’s legal battle against the government in the multi-crore Vyapam scam.
Earlier on Friday, the Bhopal court had ordered the issuance of a non-bailable arrest warrant against Singh for not appearing before the court in connection with the case. Interestingly, the chargesheet against him and seven others was filed by Jahagirabad superintendent of police Salim Khan just three days before his superannuation.
The name of former Vidhan Sabha speaker Srinivas Tiwari also figures among the 27 accused in the case, lodged by the Jahagirabad police in February 2015. The matter is being probed by a special investigation team.