Punjab Assembly Speaker granted anticipatory bail in graft case

      A local Central Bureau of investigation (CBI) court here on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to Punjab Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon in a graft case registered against him and 13 others. Special CBI Judge Balbir Singh granted bail to Kahlon after bail bond of Rs 50,000 was furnished. The case was adjourned till August 26. Earlier on Monday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted Kahlon interim protection from arrest in the case, and directed him to appear before the special CBI Judge today. The CBI had on July 9 filed a charge sheet against Kahlon and 13 others in an alleged recruitment scam during his stint as a minister in the Punjab Government. Those named in the charge-sheet include Mandeep Singh, IAS, the then director, rural development and panchayats, Punjab and now director, transport, Punjab besides J S Kesar, IAS (retired), the then financial commissioner, department of rural development and panchayats, and Vikas Sharma, private secretary (retired) to the minister. The case was registered on June 26, 2003 against Kahlon and 13 others on the basis of a complaint from the then director, rural development and panchayats, Punjab under sections 120-B, 465, 468, 471 and 201 of Indian Penal Code and section 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. It was alleged in the aforesaid complaint that the minister, in conspiracy with other accused persons indulged in corruption, cheating and forgery of the records in respect of selection of 909 panchayat secretaries during 1997 to 2002 by abusing their official positions. These allegations about selection of panchayat secretaries were also part of the larger case dated June 14, 2002 of Vigilance Bureau, Punjab.

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