Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and veteran Congress leader Gegong Apang was grated bail on Friday by the Guwahati high court in connection with the Rs 1,000 crore public distribution system scam.
Apang was arrested by the Special Investigation Cell of the Arunachal Pradesh police on August 24 for his alleged involvement in the scandal, which happened while he at the helm of affairs in the state.
A division bench of the Guwahati high court comprising Justice I A Ansari and Justice A C Upadhyay granted bail to the veteran politician after hearing his petition.
A battery of lawyers led by prominent Guwahati-based advocate J M Choudhary defended Apang in the court and argued that since the case was based on documentary evidence, which are in police custody, there was no need their client in custody.
The scam involved embezzlement of money to the tune of about Rs 1,000 crore in form of payment on hill transport subsidy and road transport charges on the basis of fake bills submitted through the Food Corporation of India.
Apang was booked under section 120b for criminal conspiracy, 420 for cheating, 468 for forgery, 409 for criminal breach of trust of the India Penal Code along with B-2 Prevention of Corruption Act.
The SIC had submitted a list of 40 persons, including some high-profile officials, suspected to be involved in the scam to the high court in October 2008. Apang's name appeared at fifth on that list, with the first four being N N Osik alias N Lego, a former Indian Administrative Service officer and director of food and civil supply, Hage Batt, another former IAS officer and director of food and civil supply, J P Rai, a former secretary of food and civil supply, and S P Bhutia, a former special officer to Apang. Names of two legislators Nikh Kamin of Arunachal and Kartik Sena Sinha of Assam also figure in the list apart from another IAS officer V Abraham, a former transport director of the state.
The SIC was formed on the instruction of Guwahati high court after it took up a Public Interest Litigation filed by Bamang Anthony, the president of Arunachal Citizens' Right and Domin Loya in October 2004 seeking intervention in the state's PDS. The petitioner's grievance related to siphoning of foodgrains meant for tribals in Arunachal, which were instead sold in the blackmarket in the neighbouring state of Assam.