New Delhi: Former Chhattisgarh High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi has "deep roots in the society" and cannot tamper with evidence, a Delhi court on Wednesday said while granting him bail in connection with an alleged medical college corruption case.
It, however, directed the 67-year-old former judicial officer to surrender his passport to the CBI within two days and not leave the country without its permission.
"This court is cognisant of the fact that Quddusi has been a judge of High Court for 17 years, though at the same time, no special concession can be showered on him solely due to this fact.
"Nonetheless, it also goes on to demonstrate that he has deep roots in the society and the apprehension of CBI that he would flee away or influence the witnesses or tamper with evidence, remain in the realm of apprehension only which seems unfounded and unsubstantiated," Special Judge Manoj Jain said.
The court gave the relief to Quddusi on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and a surety of a like amount considering that he had cooperated with CBI probe and was not required to be kept in jail any further.
"Keeping in mind the overall facts and circumstances of the case and without making any comment with respect to merits or demerits of the case, I find it to be a fit case where no useful purpose would be served by permitting Quddusi to remain behind bars at this juncture," the judge said while allowing his bail plea filed through advocate Vijay Aggarwal.
Opposing the bail plea, CBI senior public prosecutor Vivek Saxena argued that the scam in question was of a very serious magnitude and the former judicial officer's role was "crucial and pivotal as he used his contacts to help co-accused run the medical college".
Quddusi, who has also served as a judge in Orissa High Court, was arrested along with Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences' chairman B P Yadav, his son Palash Yadav and three others, for allegedly trying to settle a matter relating to the medical college debarred from admitting new students.
Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences is one of the 46 colleges debarred by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
The court also granted one week's interim bail to Bhawana Pandey, the lone woman accused in the case, for treatment of her four-year-old son suffering from autism.
It kept the bail pleas of Yadav and his son pending for decision next month.
The other accused in the case are alleged hawala operator Ram Dev Saraswat and one middleman Viswanath Aggarwala.
While granting bail to Quddusi, the court accepted the argument of his counsel that he had an unblemished track record as a high court judge for 17 years and there was no question of his non-cooperation with the probe agency.
It also noted the submission of the CBI that Quddusi had voluntarily given his voice samples for probe relating to call records, which "suggested he had cooperated with the CBI".
"The most clinching piece of evidence is already in possession of CBI in the shape of recorded conversation and therefore, it is hard to believe that Quddusi would be in any position to tamper with the evidence," it said.
The CBI claimed Quddusi might tamper with evidence and influence important witnesses in the case.
According to the CBI, the arrests were made on September 20 after search operations at eight locations, including the residence of Quddusi in Greater Kailash area of South Delhi, as also in Bhubaneswar and Lucknow.
It had said that a case was registered against them for allegedly trying to settle an ongoing matter relating to a medical college barred from admitting new students.
The court had on the last date of hearing sent Quddusi to Tihar Jail here while rejecting CBI's plea to interrogate him in custody. It had sent all the other accused to judicial custody as well.
The CBI had alleged they were not cooperating in the probe and had to be quizzed regarding similar cases involving 46 medical colleges debarred by the government from admitting students due to sub-standard facilities.
The probe agency has alleged that Quddusi had obtained an instalment of gratification from B P Yadav and it needed to investigate how it was paid.
It has alleged that Rs 1.86 crore were recovered and "a larger nexus needed to be considered as 46 colleges were debarred".