Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An application under Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code was preferred on behalf of the petitioner seeking anticipatory bail in FIR under Sections 419, 420, 120-B and 34 IPC and Sections 66C and 66D of IT Act, registered at Crime Branch, Delhi. Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, J., refused anticipatory bail because at this stage, petitioner cannot be presumed to have no association with the running of fictitious call centre, since Investigating Agency is in possession of WhatsApp messages of the petitioner exchanged with staff deployed at the call centre and the same needs to be investigated.

The case against the petitioner arises from FIR registered at the Crime Branch, Delhi, under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act. The prosecution alleged that a raid was conducted at a property in Village Kakrola, Delhi, where a fake call center was operating. The call center was involved in fraudulent activities, including impersonating Amazon employees and convincing customers, particularly those based abroad, to purchase gift vouchers which were then illegally encashed. Eleven tele-callers were found at the scene, along with digital devices used for the fraudulent activities. The case was initiated based on secret information about the operation of the fake call center. The allegations of fraud and illegal activities prompted the authorities to conduct a raid, leading to the registration of FIR.

Counsel for petitioner submitted that he was merely a director of the company, Tremendous Trips Private Limited, and that another individual was primarily responsible for managing its affairs. They presented documents to support the petitioner’s limited involvement in the company’s operations. The Counsel emphasized the lack of evidence linking him directly to the fraudulent activities and highlighted the absence of complaints from victims. The prosecution opposed the petitioner’s application for anticipatory bail, pointing out that he had evaded joining the investigation despite notices and warrants. They presented evidence, including WhatsApp messages, allegedly linking Ahmad to the fraudulent activities.

The Court carefully considered the arguments presented by both parties. It noted that the petitioner had failed to join the investigation and had evaded appearing before the authorities despite notices and warrants. The Court acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations and the need for a thorough investigation into the modus operandi of the fraud, including tracing hawala transactions.

The Court observed that while the petitioner may not have been directly involved in managing the company, the evidence suggested his association with fraudulent activities. The presence of WhatsApp messages exchanged between Ahmad and the call center staff indicated a deeper involvement that warranted further investigation.

After thorough consideration, the Court held that no grounds for anticipatory bail were made out the case. The seriousness of the allegations, failure to cooperate with the investigation, and the evidence linking him to the fraudulent activities led to the dismissal of his application.

[Irshad Ahmed v. State NCT of Delhi, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1786, decided on 13-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Rahul Mehra, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Kushal Kumar, Mr. Chaitanya Gosain, Mr. Anand Thumbayil and Mr. Akash Deep Gupta, Advocates for petitioner

Mr. Ajay Vikram Singh, APP with Inspector Pankaj Thakran, PS: Crime Branch

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