The High Court of Kerala has denied regular bail in the Palarivattom flyover scam case to T O Sooraj, former Secretary to Kerala Public Works Department, Sumeet Goyal, Managing Director of RDS Projects (the contractor) and MT Thankachan, former Additional General Manager of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala.
The Court however granted bail to another accused in the case, Benny Paul, General Manager of KITCO Ltd.
Justice Sunil Thomas observed in the order that the accused were highly influential and allegations against them were very serious.
"Prima facie, there are materials suggesting that, there has been a dangerous compromise on the quality of work done which could be for pecuniary gain. All the persons responsible are yet to be identified. It appears that, wider and deeper conspiracy is involved and what is revealed till now, may only be the tip of the iceberg. Definitely, the investigation has to progress forward with determination, and taken to its logical conclusion".
The Court referred to expert reports from IIT Chennai and Kerala Highway Research Institute which indicated that there are substantial materials to doubt the strength of pier caps, girder and other superstructures.
"In the light of the visible cracks that have developed on the pier caps, girders and other parts of superstructures, coupled with substantial materials indicating doubtful integrity of concrete used, the contention of the petitioners that load test was not conducted and that, there was no material to suggest that the quality of the construction was poor, should pale into insignificance", added the Court.
The crux of the allegation against the accused was that they along with other unnamed accused entered into a criminal conspiracy to award contract to RDS who was facing financial difficulties at that time and to cause financial gain to RDS and corresponding financial loss to the public exchequer. There were irregularities in awarding the tender to RDS Project. The contractor was sanctioned an advance of Rs 8 crores, contrary to established procedure.
As regards T O Sooraj, the Court took note of the allegations that he had made several undue favours to the contractor. It was also noted that he was already facing charge sheet in a case involving amassing of wealth disproportionate to his known source of income and about 16 other complaints against him are being investigated.
The Court also referred to the judgment of Supreme Court in P Chidambaram's bail case to say that economic offences having deep rooted conspiracies and involving huge loss of public funds need to be viewed seriously.
Considering the less seriousness of allegations against third accused Benny Paul, and his period of detention, the Court granted him bail.
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