-Kumar Achintya

The Allahabad High Court on Friday allowed the anticipatory bail application filed by Sandeep Singh, the personal secretary of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in connection to the alleged forging of a list of 1,000 buses that the Congress Party arranged for the UP Government, to bring back migrant workers. A bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh allowed Singh’s plea after looking at the “triviality” of the offences alleged. An FIR was lodged against Singh and UP Congress Chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, in the Hazratganj Police station on May 9, on the allegation of providing false information in the list of buses that were sent to ferry migrant workers home.

It was alleged that an attempt was made to seek permission to ferry migrants in faulty vehicles and that the vehicles in the list lacked requisite fitness certificates or/ and valid insurance. The FIR further alleged that the Congress leaders did not obtain inter-state movement passes, in gross violation of the guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry.
The Court has allowed Singh’s pre-arrest bail plea and has stated that “In the event of arrest, the applicant shall be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs.1,00,000/- and two sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the arresting officer/I.O./S.H.O. concerned.”

In his plea, Singh had contended that he is private Secretary of Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and all the letters, alleged to be misleading, were written on her behalf. “It is Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who on behalf of the Congress Party offered buses for transporting the migrant workers during the crisis caused by pandemic COVID-19. The present accused-applicant was only conveying the messages and writing letters on her behalf,” the Court recorded his submission.

The bail application argued that Singh was being falsely implicated in the case due to political motives. He had written letters to Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi during a face-off over the offer of buses, which the BJP government in the state was reluctant to accept. Both sides blamed the other for playing politics over the plight of stranded workers.

Granting anticipatory bail, the judge said Sandeep Singh wrote on behalf of the Congress leader. “In every letter, he said that he was writing on behalf of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. She is not an accused in the FIR in question. It is in fact Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who on behalf of the Congress party offered the buses. Singh was only conveying the messages and writing letters on her behalf,” the court said. Singh was booked along with the party’s state unit president Ajay Kumar Lallu on May 19.

The two were charged under the Indian Penal Code sections related to forging documents and cheating after the state government said the list buses contained vehicles without valid papers. Lallu was arrested and later released on bail. Sandeep Singh moved court, apprehending arrest in the same case.

Singh was represented by Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha with Advocates Nadeem Murtaza and Shubham Tripathi. The State by Addl. Government Advocates VK Shahi and Anurag Varma. In June, the High Court had allowed Lallu’s bail plea, observing that given the nature of offences alleged in the present case, a case for grant of bail is made out.

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