Charges to be framed against Lt Col in army hospital drug scam
A special CBI court in New Delhi has ordered framing of charges against a Lt Colonel, who as a head of Medicine Department at an Army hospital, allegedly connived with a drug supplier and forwarded the latter's bogus bills to the tune of Rs 1.75 lakhs.
Finding "prima facie evidence" against Lt Col JK Bhagat, head of Nuclear Medicine Department (NMD) of R&R Army Hospital here, and supplier Gagan Khanna, the court ordered charges for cheating, criminal conspiracy and resorting to corrupt practices be framed against them.
"In view of the evidence gathered, there is prima facie sufficient material to hold that both accused had connived with one another pursuant to which Khanna received advance payment for medicine 'Ceretac' and fictitious bills were forwarded illegally by Lt Col Bhagat," Special Judge I K Kochar said.
Rejecting Bhagat's contention that the alleged offence was not a criminal act and at best could be termed as "administrative lapse", the court said: "Criminal intent on part of the accused is prima facie borne out from the circumstances and in the context in which these acts were committed."
The "glaring" lapses in the medicine supply and clearing of bogus bills came to light when an inspection team of Defence Ministry officials made a surprise check at the hospital on April 28, 2000.
Lt Col Bhagat, head of NMD of Delhi Cantonment-based army Hospital, had forwarded three fictitious bills of Gagan Khanna, proprietor of Delhi-based M/s Kent Industries, for the supply of 36 vials of Ceretac, the CBI, in its chargesheet, alleged. The CBI alleged the army officer abused his official position by forwarding three fake bills of co-accused Khanna of Rs 75,600 for 19 vials, Rs 98,250 for 13 vials and Rs 30,240 for four vials of Ceretac.
Out of these, payment for two bills to the tune of Rs 1,73,850 were allegedly credited in Khanna's account on April 8, 2000 and May 2, 2000 respectively, the probe agency said.
During the surprise check, instead of 36 vials, only nine vials were recovered from the NMD, the CBI said, adding that the medicine was meant to be used only for projects.
Lending credence to the oral and documentary evidence, the court ordered framing of charges under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC and also under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption.