In a significant embarrassment for Odisha vigilance division, a vigilance courtroom in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday granted bail to senior Indian Forest Service officer Abhay Kant Pathak and his son Akash Pathak by ‘default’ after the division did not submit the cost sheet inside the obligatory interval of 60 days.
Pathak, a 1987-batch Indian Forest Service officer, working as Odisha’s extra Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Plan, Programme and Afforestation), was arrested on November 27 final yr after vigilance officers raided his official residence in Bhubaneswar, his workplace, his condo and a clutch of different areas
His son Abhay Pathak who had automobiles like Mercedes, BMW and Tata Harrier in addition to high-end bikes registered in his identify, was additionally arrested. The company which had accused Pathak of amassing disproportionate belongings price ₹9.35 crore ( 435 % of his whole revenue), had claimed that it was the largest case of disproportionate belongings in its historical past.
Although it was incumbent upon the vigilance division to submit fie cost sheet within the case inside 60 days of arrest, the company did not do it.
“As per the SC judgment within the case of Rakesh Paul vs state of Assam in 2017, in instances involving Prevention of Corruption Act, the prosecuting company has to submit the cost sheet inside 60 days. That the vigilance division officers did not submit it by January 25, the due date, reveals that the case was a malafide try to tarnish the repute of the senior IFS officer,” stated Pitambar Acharya, lawyer of Pathak.
Acharya stated the vigilance division stored the IFS officer and his son behind bars for 60 days with none shred of proof. “The vigilance division curtailed the freedom of my shoppers by protecting them in custody on flimsy proof for 60 days. Your entire operation in opposition to the Pathaks smacked of vendetta. The division doesn’t have enough proof to file a cost sheet,” he alleged.
The vigilance division, nevertheless, stated the disproportionate belongings case is just not a standard crime involving non-public particular person.
“It’s an offence dedicated by a public servant, investigation is predicated on information and paperwork and it requires detailed investigation for assortment of knowledge regarding belongings, revenue and expenditure from a number of sources. On this case, it’s a multi-State investigation, involving main investigation exterior the State, which is time consuming. It additionally requires prosecution sanction from authorities for submission of cost sheet and cognizance of offence by the courtroom to prosecute accused public servant,” the division stated in an announcement.
The vigilance division had alleged that Pathak and his household had made at the least 20 journeys to completely different cities of the nation by means of chartered planes at an expenditure of over ₹3 crores throughout Covid lockdown final yr. The vigilance sleuths discovered lodge payments of greater than ₹90 lakhs at Lodge Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and advance reserving quantity of ₹20 lakh at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur in Rajasthan for the wedding of Pathak’s son with the daughter of former BJD minister Pradeep Panigrahy. The wedding was scheduled for December 11 final yr.
Following his arrest, the Indian Forest Service officer was suspended from service and subsequently, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik additionally really useful his obligatory retirement. The advice is awaiting the Centre’s approval.
Nonetheless, Abhay Pathak and his son Akash Pathak might not get out of jail as they’re accused in additional instances. The IFS officer and his son are accused in a case of dishonest over non-payment of cash to a journey company in Bhubaneswar. The daddy-son duo had booked chartered flights, five-star lodges and air tickets by means of the company which value round ₹2.78 crore. Nonetheless, they’ve paid ₹2.13 crore whereas an excellent invoice of ₹65,16,233 is but to be cleared.
Akash, who has been accused of conspiring with expelled BJD chief and Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahy and dishonest a number of job seekers of crores of rupees on the pretext of giving jobs at Tata Motors, has been individually charged by the Crime Department of Odisha Police.