The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, earlier this week, granted bail to two accountants and the President of the Majalgaon Municipal Council, Beed, booked for misusing over Rs 4.14 crore funds allocated under the "Swacch Bharat Abhiyan."
A bench of Justice Shrikant Kulkarni was hearing the bail applications filed by Sahal Chaus, the President and accountants - Kailas Ranjwan and Anand Hajare. These were the remaining accused of the eight total accused arrested by the Beed Police in this case.
According to the FIR filed in December 2019, the trio along with five other senior officials were booked for misappropriation of government funds, which were provided by the state under various schemes introduced in the 14th Finance Commission.
The Municipal Council was required to disburse 50 per cent of the total amount received on the amenities such as waste management, sanitary blocks, toilets and urban tree plantation. The remaining 50 per cent of the funds was required to be utilized for various works under the scheme of ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan’.
"The budget was to be utilized only for the essential works under the scheme of ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan’. After completion, NOC was to be obtained from the government. However, the budget allotted to the civic body for utilization under the ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan’ scheme was not utilized as per the mandatory directions issued by the state," prosecution claimed.
It further contended that the budget was utilized for the works not permitted or not mentioned under the scheme of ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan’. It also claimed that the without obtaining prior permission the accused officials had misappropriated government funds to the tune of Rs. 4,13,97,942.
In their defence, the trio argued that they being lower tank officials of the civic body, their role cannot be more than the administration head, the chief officer etc, who have already got bail in the same case. They sought bail on grounds of parity.
Justice Kulkarni, while hearing the contentions, considered the fact that probe in the case has already completed and that the prosecution has also filed it's chargesheet in the case, which runs into thousands of pages.
"Even though, it is a case of misappropriation of government funds by preparing false record, I do not find any extraordinary circumstances to reject the bail application when rule of parity is applicable in the case," Justice Kulkarni opined.
Referring to the verdicts by the Supreme Court the judge observed, "The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventive. Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment, unless it can be required to ensure that an accused person will stand his trial when called out."
"There are remote chances of fleeing away from the trial as the accused being a government servant. Even otherwise, their presence can be secured by imposing certain conditions and they are not dangerous persons, who could be threat to the society," the judge observed, while granting them bail.