New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Suresh Kalmadi, accused of corruption in the Commonwealth Games here, walked out of prison after nine months as the Delhi High Court finally accepted his bail plea Thursday.
“Kalmadi was released from jail at 7.20 p.m.,” said Sunil Gupta, Tihar jail spokesperson.
Kalmadi walked out of the office of Director General (Prisons), giving a slip to the contingent of mediapersons who had been waiting for him at the main gate of the Tihar Jail.
However, a few mediapesons managed to catch up with him but Kalmadi refused to take questions. He looked relaxed as he sat in the car that took him home. He merely folded his hands to questions as the car sped away.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi High Court had accepted his bail plea. Justice Mukta Gupta allowed the bail application of both Kalmadi and his aide V.K. Verma for a personal bond of Rs.5 lakh with two sureties of the like amount each, subject to the satisfaction of the trial court.
But while granting bail, the court told them not to leave India without judicial permission.
Kalmadi, former head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) who once boasted he would bring the Olympics too to India, is an MP from Pune.
The court, taking note of the delay in trial, said there was no evidence that Kalmadi would threaten witnesses or interfere with evidence.
As witnesses had spoken without fear and there was no evidence that they had been intimidated, there was no likelihood of they being threatened.
“There is no allegation that (Kalmadi and Verma) are likely to flee from justice,” said the judge.
Kalmadi was arrested April 25 last year for his alleged role in awarding a contract to set up the Timing-Scoring-Result system to Swiss Times Omega at a cost of Rs.141 crore, allegedly causing a loss of Rs.95 crore to the exchequer.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) opposed the bail plea.
Kalmadi was suspended by the Congress following his arrest.
The New Delhi Commonwealth Games, attended by 54 countries, was trailed by controversy, charges of financial mismanagement, bungled preparations, contractual fiasco and mudslinging between those at the helm.
Kalmadi’s bail order evoked mixed responses.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi refused to comment, saying that process of law was being followed. Balbir K. Punj of the Bharatiya Janata Party said the bail “does not declare Kalmadi innocent”.
“If bail has been granted to Kalmadi, it is process of law,” Alvi said. He said the party does not interfere in the process of law.
Another party leader, Digvijay Singh said bail was the right of every accused.
Indian Olympic Association vice-president Tarlochan Singh said it was up to Kalmadi to decide whether to return as the IOA chief.
The court observed that the charge sheet was filed in May 2011. Two supplementary charge sheets followed.
Kalmadi and Verma moved the court for bail after the Supreme Court observed in the 2G case that bail must be the rule and jail an exception.
The accused and two companies in the case were charged under the Indian Penal Code for cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery, and booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Seven other accused, including Kalmadi aides Lalit Bhanot and M. Jayachandran, are in the Tihar Jail in what was seen as the biggest scandal in India’s sports history.