Petroleum minister’s brother seeks anticipatory bail

Bhubaneswar, Jan 16 (IANS) Hours after the Vigilance Department registered a case against him for irregularities in his gas agency, Soumendra Kumar Pradhan, brother of Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, on Monday applied to a court for anticipatory bail.

Soumendra moved the Orissa High Court after a case was filed against his ‘Pradhan Gas Service’, located at Handidhua in Odisha’s Talcher.

“On finding irregularities there, a case has been registered against four persons, including the proprietor of Pradhan Gas Service, Soumendra Kumar Pradhan. The Vigilance Cuttack Division has registered the case,” said Vigilance Director R.P. Sharma.

The case has been registered under sections 7 and 8 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, sections 9(b) and 12 of the Indian Explosives Act, 1884, and sections 285, 420 and 120(b) of the IPC.

A DSP of the Cuttack Vigilance Division has been handed over the charge for further investigation, said Sharma.

On Saturday, the Vigilance Department conducted raids at several petrol pumps and gas agencies across the state, including the one belonging to the minister’s brother, following allegations of adulteration and black marketing.

Officials have found that about 40 cylinders were unauthorisedly sold to one Debraj Panda of Talcher without any document. They were allegedly issued in the name of different consumers of the agency using fake documents.

The vigilance sleuths conducted another raid on Soumendra’s agency on Monday. A team of the Vigilance, Food & Civil Supplies and the Consumer Welfare departments led by the Cuttack Vigilance Division DSP conducted the raid.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance sleuths on Monday continued their raids on petrol stations and gas agencies over reported theft and adulteration. The raids were conducted across Odisha, including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.