A special court on Tuesday granted bail to Home Ministry official Anand Joshi, who was arrested for allegedly issuing FCRA notices arbitrarily to several NGOs for financial gains, observing that the accused cannot be put in jail for an indefinite period.
Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar gave the relief to Mr. Joshi, who was an under secretary in the Home Ministry, on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and two sureties of the like amount.
“Accusations are serious, but the accused cannot be put in jail for an indefinite period. Considering that he is not likely to abscond, bail is granted to the accused,” the judge said.
The court imposed several bail conditions on the accused while cautioning him “if CBI makes any complaint that he is trying to contact/influence any NGO or witness, the court will cancel the bail.”
The court directed Mr. Joshi not to leave Ghaziabad and Delhi till the time investigation is over and also asked him to deposit his passport with the investigating officer (IO).
It, however, said that in case of any emergency, he can leave for Ranchi, where his parents reside, after taking the court’s prior permission.
“He will not try to influence any witness or to contact any of the NGOs being probed,” the court said.
During the arguments on the bail plea, the court observed that Mr. Joshi’s conduct was doubtful as he had earlier fled as per CBI’s allegation.
The court also asked Mr. Joshi to make his presence before the IO every Monday.
Mr. Joshi sought bail, saying that he was not in a condition to influence any witness or NGO and that he has been transferred from the Home Ministry.
Opposing the plea, CBI said that if granted bail, Mr. Joshi could threaten witnesses as he was in an influential capacity.
It also submitted that a large number of NGOs were required to be investigated and there were apprehensions that he could abscond.
While seeking bail, Mr. Joshi said neither the files nor the NGOs were under his control and he could not even touch those documents. He added he will not flee if granted the relief.
Files recovered from house
Mr. Joshi, who was arrested from west Delhi on May 15, was presently under judicial custody.
The CBI had earlier claimed that files relating to several NGOs had gone missing from the Home Ministry and they were recovered from his house although he was not supposed to take them away.
The CBI had alleged that Mr. Joshi had been issuing notices dishonestly to a large number of NGOs/societies registered under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) 2010, which have been receiving significant amount of foreign contributions, in an arbitrary manner.
The CBI had said some of these organisations were Care India, Snehalya Charitable Trust, Indian HIV/AIDS Alliance and All India Primary Teachers Federation and alleged that representatives of some of these organisations were called and Mr. Joshi had demanded and obtained illegal gratification.
Mr. Joshi was arrested after he allegedly gave unconvincing answers to the questions posed by a team of Special Crime division of the CBI, including those related to disappearance of files on Sabrang Trust of activist Teesta Setalvad.
Mr. Joshi, who had disappeared from his home in Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, was picked up from Tilak Nagar area of West Delhi and taken to CBI headquarters for questioning.
Subsequently, he was arrested by the agency.
Mr. Joshi has rejected the charge and instead accused his seniors of pressuring him to give clean chit to NGOs. In a note which he had left before leaving home, Mr. Joshi claimed he had been subjected to “mental harassment” in recent months.