STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar Wing on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by absconding ‘millionaire’ Junior Assistant of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department Pranav Gandotra.
The court had kept the decision on Pranav’s bail petition pending on September 4.
The accused Pranav Gandotra had filed the bail petition in Srinagar Wing of the High Court, to avoid any objections from the SVO as the FIR was registered in Jammu. However, the prosecution wing of the SVO got intimation on time and raised objections in the court on September 4.
On July 20, 2018, the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) Jammu had registered an FIR (21/18) against Pranav Gandotra for allegedly misappropriating Rs 80 lakh during his posting as TSO Rajouri.
On July 25, 2018, the High Court in Jammu had stayed the investigations into the FIR 21/2018 registered by SVO. Soon after the stay on FIR 21/18 was vacated on August 6, 2018, Pranav went underground.
Despite repeated summons from SVO, he didn’t even attend his office. Director F,CS&CA Department Amit Sharma also issued notices to the junior clerk who served as TSO Kerosene Oil in Jammu because of his close proximity with the then CAPD Minister.
On the registration of FIR, the SVO teams on July 20, 2018 had also conducted raids at Pranav Gandotra’s offices at Satwari and Janipur, two residences at Channi Himmat and his two Palm Rivera flats on Akhnoor Road.
During the raids on his offices and residential premises, gold and silver ornaments weighing four kilograms and 11 kilograms respectively, luxury cars like Fortuner, Innova and i10 were recovered by the SVO raiding parties. In addition, documents related ‘to several properties were also recovered.
Besides this, three separate cases and preliminary inquires against Pranav are presently under court stay.
On June 28, 2018, the High Court had stayed the Crime Branch’s FIR 32/2017 registered on September 7, 2017. The FIR was registered after Crime Branch gathered evidences related to huge black-marketing of Kerosene Oil. After thorough investigations and recording hundreds of statements, sufficient to establish the charges and expose the entire racket, the then Inspector-cum-TSO Kerosene Oil for the entire Jammu Province Pranav Gandotra was summoned by the CB with records. As the CB team kept waiting for the records sought from Director FCS&CA, Pranav got a major relief in terms of staying the further investigations in the FIR 32/2017 by the court.
“Besides Pranav, several officers and officials of FCS&CA would have landed in lock-up if the investigations into (FIR 32/2017) case had not been stayed,” said an employee of the department on the condition of anonymity. The stay had been granted on the petition filed by Pranav Gandotra, son of late Kewal Gandotra, resident of 60/3, Channi Himmat, Jammu.
Similarly, in another case, on July 7, 2018, the High Court had stayed FIR 39/2016 which was originally registered at Samba Police Station and later shifted to Crime Branch in the month of February 2018 as the Kerosene Oil mafia, allegedly in connivance with Samba Police, had fudged the records to ensure accused to get scot free. The FIR was registered after two fully-loaded Kerosene Oil tankers were seized from Samba Bazaar. Surprisingly, the number plates of both the tankers were same.
The tanker owners produced fake documents in Samba Court and got the tankers released. When all the accused were bailed out and FSL report confirmed that seized oil was Kerosene, the Police Headquarters referred the investigation to Crime Branch.
As the Crime Branch was about to expose the entire nexus, the accused knocked the doors of High Court and on July 7, 2018 they got the relief from Justice J.R Kotwal, who ordered investigations into FIR 39/2016 to be stayed.
The stay in the Samba case ( later transferred to Crime Branch) was granted on the petition filed by one Rajesh Gupta, a Kerosene Oil stockist.
According to CB investigators, the involvement of employees of Food & Supplies department also surfaced as there was no check on K Oil’s black marketing.
It may be pertinent to mention that the post of Inspector-cum-TSO Kerosene Oil for the entire Jammu Province had been created by the then Food Supplies Minister for obvious reasons and the charge was given to Junior Assistant Pranav Gandotra.
Pranav Gandotra got relief from the High Court successively in four cases.
On May 29, 2018, preliminary investigations into allegations of possessing disproportionate assets by Pranav Gandotra had been stayed by High Court. The State Vigilance Organisation was conducting investigations and it was stayed.
On July 25, 2018, the Court of Justice Janak Raj Kotwal had stayed another FIR 21/2018 registered against Pranav Gandotra after his residences and offices were simultaneously raided by vigilance sleuths. The court on August 6, 2018 vacated the stay on same case and today his bail plea has also been rejected. Pranav Gandotra is presently absconding.
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