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Tripura HC grants bail to ex-minister Badal Chowdhury in graft case

Tripura HC grants bail to ex-minister Badal Chowdhury in graft case

Agartala: The Tripura High Court on Saturday granted bail to former PWD minister Badal Chowdhury as the police did not file a chargesheet against him 87 days after he was booked in a Rs 638 crore graft case.

Public Prosecutor Ratan Dutta said that according to the legal procedure any accused holds the right to get bail by default if the police is unable to submit a chargesheet within 90 days of arrest.

Chowdhury, who is also a CPI(M) central committee member, was arrested on October 21 last year in connection with alleged irregularities in the PWD in 2008-09.

His counsel Purusottam Roy Burman said the high court granted the sitting MLA bail because the police was not able to file a charge sheet against him even though 87 days had passed since he was booked on October 21 last year.

However, the court imposed some conditions on him like that he would not influence the investigation process or witnesses, and try to tamper evidence. The accused would also need to submit Rs 1 lakh bail bond along with a surety.

Former engineer-in-chief Sunil Bhowmik and former chief secretary Yashpal Singh were also booked in the alleged corruption case.

The public prosecutor said police have completed investigating Chowdhury and Bhowmik, who was previously released on bail, but they have not filed the chargesheet yet.

Since Bhowmik was released on bail 87 days after arrest, the court headed by Justice Arindam Lodh ruled in favour of extending Chowdhury the same benefit and him granting bail.

"We seriously objected against granting him bail as three days were still left and within the three days, police could file chargesheet. However, the court decided to grant him bail," he said.

On January 17, the entire opposition had staged a walkout in the state assembly alleging that Chowdhury was arrested for political vendetta and demanded his unconditional release.

Leader of the opposition and former chief minister Manik Sarkar had earlier said that Chowdhury, also the deputy leader of the opposition, was arrested in framed up charges and the allegations against him were "baseless".

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