Judge met Chhattisgarh CM days before bail to accused in NAN scam: ED | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Judge met Chhattisgarh CM days before bail to accused in NAN scam: ED

Oct 19, 2022 12:39 AM IST

A Chhattisgarh high court judge met the state chief minister Bhupesh Baghel few days before the bail was granted to some of the prime accused in the Nagrik Apurti Nigam (NAN or public distribution corporation) scam, the ED claimed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

A Chhattisgarh high court judge met the state chief minister Bhupesh Baghel few days before the bail was granted to some of the prime accused in the Nagrik Apurti Nigam (NAN or public distribution corporation) scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. (ANI)
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. (ANI)

Alleging collusion between the accused and “highly placed persons”, solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, told a bench led by Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit that it is impossible to have a free and fair trial in the state, necessitating the shifting of trial outside Chhattisgarh.

“The learned judge met the CM a few days before the bail. I have nothing more to say. I did not want to say this but if this cannot shock your lordships’ conscience, nothing can,” Mehta told the bench, which also comprised justices Ajay Rastogi and S Ravindra Bhat.

“Everything is not entered into in black and white. There would not be an agreement signed by the chief minister and the learned judge,” said the SG, as he pressed ED’s petition to transfer the NAN scam trial outside Chhattisgarh due to alleged interference by Baghel and other functionaries of the state.

The arguments in the case remained inconclusive and will continue on October 20.

On September 26, the bench had stayed the trial proceeding in case, noting said it would not be appropriate for the trial court to record the testimonies of the accused while ED’s petition for transfer of trial outside the state remained pending before the Supreme Court.

Earlier, on September 19, the bench had had allowed the Chhattisgarh government to submit a sealed cover, which the state claimed, will counter ED’s sealed cover that was earlier given to the court.

The NAN scam came to light in 2015, during the previous BJP government in Chhattisgarh, when the Opposition raised allegations of corruption in the public distribution system (PDS) by allowing substandard rice in the system. NAN is the agency in charge of distribution and procurement of food grains. The then government commenced a probe by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB), which charged several officials, including the then chairman and managing director of NAN.

Within days of the Congress coming to power in December 2018, CM Baghel announced the formation of a special investigation team (SIT). Soon, the two NAN officials, who were absconding after the charge sheet was filed against them, applied for anticipatory bail and were also appointed in the new government. In August 2020, the Chhattisgarh high court granted them bail, which ED challenged in the top court, besides filing a writ petition for the transfer of investigation and trial outside Chhattisgarh.

A senior official in the CMO said: “The allegations are baseless. The documents are yet to reach us. We will take legal opinion...”

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