New Delhi: An environment ministry official, arrested by the CBI along with two others for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 7 lakh for arranging environmental clearance for a mining firm in Odisha, has been granted bail by a Delhi court which said possibility of his absconding is remote.
The court allowed the bail plea of Neeraj Khatri, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Environment and Forests who was arrested in January along with alleged middleman Rai Sri Chinmaya Srichandan and his father Rai Sri Achyutananda Srichandan.
"The accused Neeraj Khatri is a government employee and possibility of his absconding is remote. The two co-accused persons have already been granted bail vide order dated March 5, 2013.
"The investigation of the case shall take some more time," special CBI judge V K Gupta said and granted bail to Khatri on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of the like amount.
During the arguments on the bail plea, Khatri said he was in custody since his arrest in January and no further material investigation has to be conducted and probe into the case and trial would take a long time.
The CBI has opposed his bail plea saying that Khatri was arrested while accepting a bribe of Rs 7 lakh for getting the environmental clearance and the probe is at an advance stage and vital documents are yet to be obtained from Odisha.
In its FIR, the CBI had alleged that private firm S S Environics (India) Pvt Ltd was "liasioning" with the Ministry of Environment and Forests on behalf of Odisha-based Chariot Steel and Power (Pvt) Ltd for obtaining environmental clearance for its Raiboga Mines at Birmitrapur in Sundargarh, Odisha.
The three accused had entered into a conspiracy and Khatri had agreed to accept Rs 7 lakh as bribe for expediting environment clearance, CBI had alleged, adding that Chinmaya Srichandan had delivered Rs 7 lakh to Khatri and both were apprehended and the money was recovered from the official.
CBI had also alleged that cash of over Rs one crore and various incriminating documents were recovered from Khatri`s residential premises at Rohtak and Gurgaon and his office.
Khatri and Chinmaya Srichandan were arrested on January 17 by CBI while Achyutananda Sri Chandan was arrested later on.
All the accused have been booked under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC.