Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: While allowing the instant bail petition preferred by Kalyani Singh against the FIR dated 13-4-2016 under Sections 302, 120-B, 201 of Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 25, 27 and 54 of the Arms Act, 1959, Sureshwar Thakur, J., grants a regular bail to the petitioner due to lack of thorough investigation by the CBI.

Facts:

Sukhmanpreet Singh Sidhu, alias Sippy Sidhu, was shot dead near the green park on a pedestrian track by unknown assailants in 2015 at Chandigarh at 10 PM. An intimation was sent to the Police Station through wireless message that a person is lying dead on the streets. The police noticed that the person was carrying injuries on his left cheek and chest and blood was oozing from the injuries.

Initially, the Chandigarh police were investigating the crime but later it was transferred to CBI on 20-1-2016 by Home Secretary, Chandigarh Administration. As a result, the crime event was registered with the Special Crime Branch, CBI, Chandigarh for thorough investigation.

After 6 years, on 15-6-2022, the present petitioner was arrested, based on certain inculpatory evidence as was collected by the CBI. The Investigation Agency informed that on completion of the investigation, it filed a report under section 173 of CrPC in 2020 and requested to take up further investigation with reference to the role of the suspect in Sippy Sidhu’s murder.

The petitioner in the instant case also approached the trial court in July but her bail application was rejected. Hence, this instant bail petition was filed.

Investigation Report by CBI:

  1. Petitioner and the deceased were in a close relationship and the petitioner wanted to marry the deceased. But the family of the deceased was against the marriage as they did not want inter-caste marriage to which the petitioner raised issues.

  2. After the rejection of the marriage proposal, Sippy Sidhu leaked some objectionable pictures of the petitioner to her family and friends. The petitioner asked her friends to delete the pictures saying that these are morphed.

  3. CBI stated that the petitioner had the motive as the leaked pictures and rejection annoyed Kalyani Singh and conspired in the murder of Sippy Sidhu with an unknown assailant.

  4. Investigation revealed that Kalyani Singh, her family members and their relatives were present at a birthday party at the day and time of incident on 20.09.2015 which started from 8:15 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. The other members of the birthday party also corroborated the same.

  5. Petitioner compelled the deceased to meet her at the park where she was present with assailant and killed Sippy Sidhu with a gun.

  6. Though the murder weapon is not found.

  7. Though the polygraph report of the petitioner revealed that on the questions which included the relevant issues like absence from party, presence at crime scene and killing Sippy Sidhu, her answers were found to be deceptive.

Observation and Analysis of this Court:

The Court said “though it was a legitimate expectation from the investigating agency that the crime event becomes solved. However, though for certain reasons best known only to the Investigating Officers concerned, they since the very inception of the crime event, prima facie appears to only for solving the crime event, but without any prima facie tangible evidence rather singularly choosing to inculpate the petitioner in the crime event. The above endeavor appears to be a sequel of the Investigating Agency relegating into the limbo of oblivion all the above referred defects in the investigations as made into the crime event. Therefore, also its prima facie appears that objective and fair investigations have not been carried out into the crime event.

The Court also stated that “the CBI is the prime Investigating Agency and has to live up to its renowned credentials. However, prima facie in the instant case, it has not lived up to its credentials of being the foremost Investigating Agency in the country, from whom it was but expected that the most impartial and objective investigations are made into the crime event, then choosing to only adopt the stand of the aggrieved. Though, the CBI could have taken to seek cooperation from the aggrieved, but only when, prima facie tangible besides credit worthy evidence to support the aggrieved’s stand, did make emergence.”

The Court observed that the untraced report was filed in the year 2020, whereas the investigation was handed over to the CBI in the year 2015. Instead of using the best scientific techniques to inculpate the real offenders, CBI has prima facie chosen to ill indulge in taking the services of tutored and planted witnesses rather merely for solving the crime event through causing the arrest of the present petitioner.

The Court opined that further investigations may ultimately result in all the offenders concerned being brought to inculpation rendering complete justice to the aggrieved and to society at large.

Thus, the Court held that the petitioner is granted regular bail as justice must be done to the aggrieved and also on the basis of lack of thorough investigation by CBI.

[Kalyani Singh v. Central Bureau of Investigation,2022 SCC OnLine P&H 2168, decided on 13-09-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Mr. R.S. Cheema, Senior Advocate

Mr. Sartej Singh Narula, Advocate,

Mr. Sandeep Sharma, Advocate,

Mr. Arshdeep Singh Cheema, Advocate,

Mr. Gurinder Singh, Advocate

Mr. Satish Sharma, Advocate

For the Respondent: Mr. Rajeev Anand, Standing Counsel for respondent-CBI

Mr. R.S. Bains, Senior Advocate

Ms. Aarushi Garg, Advocate

Delhi High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Delhi High Court: In a public interest litigation filed by an Advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi, practicing in Delhi High Court seeking directions to Respondents to provide list of 186 private liquor vendors who were harassed by officers of Respondents and identifying officers causing such harassment and the like, a Division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma C.J., and Subramonium Prasad J., observed that the present petition is nothing but a sheer abuse of the process of law and therefore, imposed costs of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh) to be paid to the Army War Widows Fund within a period of 30 days from today, while dismissing the petition at the admission stage itself.

On 30-07-2022, the petitioner heard a news/ statement on “India TV” Channel made by the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi that the Central Investigating Agencies are harassing the private liquor vendors and they have been forced to close their shops. It was further stated that heavy loss was caused to the State Exchequer resulting in loss of livelihood to 176 private liquor vendors and the general public was deprived of the opportunity to purchase liquor at discounted price. Thus, the present petition was filed.

The Court noted that the prayer clause in the present PIL revealed that the petitioner wants a list of 186 private liquor vendors who have been allegedly harassed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and by the Directorate of Enforcement along with a direction be issued to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi to identify those persons who are causing harassment to 186 liquor vendors forcing them to close their shops, thereby depriving them of their right of livelihood guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Court further noted that the petitioner has not named a single officer of the CBI, or of the Directorate of Enforcement who has harassed a single liquor vendor, nor has he given details of any kind of such harassment and based upon the so-called press releases/ statement made in the press, he wants a roving inquiry to be done by this Court. Thus, the present petition is nothing but a sheer abuse of the process of law and the petitioner wants a roving inquiry to be done by this Court based upon vague and absurd allegations.

Placing reliance on Janata Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary, (1992) 4 SCC 305, Dattaraj Nathuji Thaware v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 1 SCC 590 and Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India, (2018) 6 SCC 72, the Court observed that Supreme Court has shown concern about large number of PIL’s flooding High Courts and Supreme Court wherein such petitions are misused to resolve personal scores, personal disputes and political rivalries.

Thus, the Court imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh to be paid towards Army War Widows Fund within a period of 30 days from date of order, failing which, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, New Delhi District will recover the amount as arrears of land revenue and shall transfer the same to the Army War Widows Fund with intimation to the Registrar General.

[Narinder Khanna v. Govt of NCT of Delhi, WP (C) No. 12762 of 2022, decided on 08-09-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

Petitioner-in-person

Mr. Santosh Kumar Tripathi, Standing Counsel (Civil) with Mr. Arun Panwar, Mr. Siddharth Krishna Dwivedi, Mr. Pradeep & Ms. Mahak Rankawat, Advocates for respondent N1/GNCTD.

Mr. Rahul Raj & Mr. Anil Dutt, Advocates for respondent 2/KVIC.

Mr. Arkaj Kumar & Mr. Padmesh Mishra, Advocates for respondent 3/LG.

Ms. Suman Chauhan, SPP with Ms. Samiksha Mittal & Ms. Anubha Bhardwaj, Advocates for respondent 4/CBI.

Mr. Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC with Mr. Danish Faraz Khan, Advocate for respondent 5/ Directorate of Enforcement.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

Hot Off The PressNews

The IBBI Disciplinary Committee has issued an ex-parte interim order due to the urgency of the matter and suspended the registration of Mr Subrata Monindranath Maity as an Insolvency Professional.

Read the directions issued by IBBI, here: Interim Order


Background

The Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested Subrata Monindranath Maity regarding the demand for the undue advantage of Rs 20,00,000/-.

On perusal of the FIR against the Insolvency Professional, it was observed that the allegations were serious in nature leading to contravention of multiple provisions of the Code including Section 208(2)(a) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,2016 (the Code) read with regulations 7(2)(a), 7(2)(b), 7(2)(h) and 7(2)(i) of the IBBI (Insolvency Professionals) Regulations, 2016 and clauses 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 14, 17, 24 and 28 of the Code of Conduct specified thereunder.

The above-said raised serious questions about him being ‘fit and proper’ to continue as an IP.

His arrest is bound to hamper the ongoing processes being handled by him, and therefore would jeopardise the interest of concerned stakeholders.


Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India

[Notification No. IBBI/DC/95(Interim)/2022]

[Interm Order dt. 9-5-2022]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP), National Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai and two private persons including the Proprietor of Mumbai based firm in a  bribery case of Rs Two Lakh.

            A case was registered on complaint against an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai and unknown others on the allegations of demanding undue advantage of Rs.20 lakh for settling the NCLT matter of Complainant’s company. It was further alleged that the accused demanded initial part payment of Rs.2 lakh, out of the total demand of Rs.20 lakh from the Complainant and told him that a private person would come to collect the said amount at Pune.

            CBI laid a trap and caught the said private person while accepting the initial part payment of Rs.2 Lakh from the Complainant. Later, the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) and the Proprietor/Jeweller of Mumbai whose alleged role came in the case were also caught.

            Searches were conducted at the premises of the accused at Pune, Navi Mumbai which led to recovery of incriminating documents etc.

            All the three arrested accused are being produced today in the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Pune.


Central Bureau of Investigation

[Press Release dt. 5-5-2022]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While addressing a matter wherein bail of Gautam Thapar accused in Yes Bank Loan Fraud case, was sought, Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., expressed that it is well settled that, economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach, given their severity and magnitude. Albeit these offences are likely to adversely impact the economic fabric of the country, bail shall not be denied to a person accused of an economic offence in a routine manner.

The present application had been filed under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code seeking regular bail filed under Sections 45/44 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and arising out of ECIR registered under Sections 3 /4 PMLA by the respondent/ED.

Factual Background

After the removal of Rana Kapoor, the then MD and CEO of Yes Bank Ltd., certain complaint came to be filed assailing his role in the grant of various credit facilities to borrowers, in violation of banking norms and against receipt of illegal gratification, which resulted in huge loss to the Bank

One of the above-stated complaints was in relation to Oyster Buildwell Pvt. Ltd. (OBPL) a real estate company, which was extended credit facilities to the tune of Rs 514.27 crores resulting in loss of Rs 466.51 crores to the Bank.

Hence, an FIR was registered under Sections 120B/406/420/468/471 by the CBI against OBPL, the applicant and other including unknown public servants and private persons for having committed criminal breach of trust, cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery for diversion/misappropriation of the public money during the period from 2017 to 2019.

The investigation in the case is still pending.

Analysis and Discussion

As per Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it guarantees a right to personal liberty to every person, and thus, there is no gainsaying that bail is the rule and jail an exception.

In matters of regular bail under Section 439 CrPC, a Court must consider aspects, including but not limited to the larger interest of the State of public, whether the accused is a flight risk, whether there is a likelihood of this tampering with evidence, whether there is the likelihood of influencing witnesses, etc.

Another factor relevant to the question of bail would be the gravity of the alleged offence and/or nature of the allegations levelled, which may serve as an additional test and can be applied while keeping in view the severity of the punishment that the offence entails.

The embargo imposed by Section 45(1) PMLA on grant of bail took form of twin conditions:

(i) that the Public Prosecutor shall be given an opportunity to oppose the application for release, and (ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes such application, the Court should be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

In 2017, the constitutional validity of Section 45 PMLA was challenged before the Supreme Court in Nikesh Tarachand Shah v. Union of India,    (2018) 11 SCC 1, whereby a decision rendered in 2018, explicating the defects inherent in the provision and the challenges posed thereby, the Supreme Court held that the twin conditions imposed by Section 45(1) PMLA were manifestly arbitrary, discriminator and violative of Articles 14 ad 21 of the Constitution of India.

Post the above-said decision, an amendment was made to Section 45 PMLA vide the Finance Act, 2018. The new Section 45(1) PMLA reads as follows:

“45. Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable.—(1) [Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), no person accused of an offence [under this Act] shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless—]

(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release; and 

(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail :

Provided that a person, who, is under the age of sixteen years, or is a woman or is sick or infirm [or is accused either on his own or along with other co-accused of money-laundering a sum of less than one crore rupees], may be released on bail, if the Special Court so directs :

Provided further that the Special Court shall not take cognizance of any offence punishable under Section 4 except upon a complaint in writing made by—

(i) the Director; or 

(ii) any officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorised in writing in this behalf by the Central Government by a general or special order made in this behalf by that Government.”

This Court concurred with the decision of the Special Judge that the apprehensions of the applicant tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses were unfounded.

With regard to the apprehension of the applicant being a flight risk was concerned, it was noted that the respondent had already issued LOCs against the applicant, who was willing to surrender his passport.

In view of the above, High Court opined that the applicant’s presence during the trial can be secured by taking adequate measures, including surrender of his passport, and imposing necessary conditions in terms of P. Chidambaram v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2020) 13 SCC 337.

Further, the Bench added that, at this stage, it would be deemed apposite to refer to the observations made in Rohit Tandon v. Directorate of Enforcement, (2018) 11 SCC 46 where while relying on its earlier decisions in Ranjitsing Brahmajeetsing Sharma v. State of Maharashtra,(2005) 5 SCC 294 and State of Maharashtra v. Vishwanath Maranna Shetty, (2012) 10 SCC 561, the Supreme Court outlined the parameters for adjudication of bail application in terms of Section 45(1)(ii) PMLA.

The applicant was the ultimate beneficiary, being the Founder and Chairman of the Avantha Group and in total, an amount of Rs 500.11 crores was stated to be the ‘proceeds of crime’ in the case.

It was noted that as per the prosecution complaint, certain Bank Officials colluded with the applicant for the grant of Term Loan, which was ostensibly obtained by OBPL to furnish security deposit in favor of JPIL, however, in reality the same was sought with malafide intentions to be siphoned off and diverted towards repayment of facilities availed by Avantha Group companies and for meeting other expenses.        

Adding to the above, Court found that the bank was fully aware of the real purpose for which the loan was obtained.

Public money under the garb of Term loan was siphoned off in this way, resulting in generation of ‘proceeds of crime’ as well as its layering and ultimate projection as untainted money.

In view of the above-discussed position, High Court held that it cannot be stated that the applicant was not guilty of the alleged offences or that he was not likely to commit any such offence while on bail.

Therefore, bail was declined. [Gautam Thapar v. Directorate of Enforcement, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 642, decided on 2-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Mukul Rohatgi, Sr. Advocate with Mr Sandeep Kapur, Mr Virinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Mr Vivek Suri, Ms Niharika Karanjawala, Mr Abhimanshu Dhyani, Mr Sahil Modi and Ms Kajal, Advocates

For the Respondent:

Mr Amit Mahajan, CGSC with Mr Kritagya Kumar Kait, Advocate

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a breather to SK Supiyan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s Election Agent in the Vidhan Sabha Elections held in 2021, the bench of L Nageswara Rao and Abhay S. Oka, JJ has granted him anticipatory bail in the Nandigram murder case but has directed him to fully cooperate with CBI for investigation and to remain present for investigation as and when called upon by the investigating officer. The Court made clear that the pre-arrest bail is liable to be cancelled if it is found that the appellant is not cooperating for the investigation.

One Debabrata Maity sustained injuries on 3rd May 2021 in an alleged incident of mob attack. He succumbed to injuries on 13th May 2021.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal urged on behalf of Supiyan that CBI tried to implicate him for political reasons as he was the election agent of the Chief Minister of West Bengal in the Vidhan Sabha Elections held in 2021. It was submitted that most of the witnesses are workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and that as per media reports Suvendu Adhikari, who is a leader of BJP who contested election against the Chief Minister, in statements made by him in October 2021, stated that Supiyan would be named by the investigating agency and will be arrested.

Aman Lekhi, Additional Solicitor General of India, on the other hand urged that this is a case of a serious offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC and therefore, custodial interrogation of Supiyan is necessary. Relying upon statements of the witnesses recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, he urged that looking into the seriousness of the allegations, Supiyan does not deserve the protection of pre-arrest bail.

The Supreme Court took note of the crucial fact that though two charge sheets have been filed on 5th October 2021 and 9th January 2022, Supiyan has not been named as an accused therein. While CBI is relying upon statements of 5 witnesses recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, the statements of the first two witnesses were recorded on 7th September 2021 and 11th November 2021 respectively but the appellant was not named in both the charge sheets filed thereafter. Though the statement of Shri Manoj Kumar Bera was recorded on 18th November 2021, he was not cited as a witness in the first two charge sheets. The statements of the other two witnesses have been belatedly recorded on 24th January 2022.

Hence, considering the peculiar facts of the case, the Court held that Supiyan deserved to be granted anticipatory bail.

[SK Supiyan v. CBI, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 164, decided on 09.02.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Abhay S. Oka


Counsels

For appellant: Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal

For CBI: Additional Solicitor General of India Aman Lekhi

For complainant: Senior Advocate P.S. Patwalia

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Sujoy Paul and Arun Kumar Sharma, JJ., quashed the National Medical Commission’s decision rejecting L.N. Medical College & Research Centre’s application for increase of MBBS seats. Opening the decision to be beyond the jurisdiction of the NMC, the Bench stated,

“…language of statute is plain and clear that the decision of the Board must be based on the touch-stone of yardsticks mentioned in Section 29. A room for any doubt that CBI’s self contained note by no stretch of imagination can be a reason for approving or disapproving the scheme or to disallow an application.”

Factual Backdrop

The instant petition challenged the order of National Medical Commission (NMC) dated 10-01-2022 whereby, the request of the petitioner institution for increase of MBBS seats for the MBBS -UG Course from 150 to 250 for the current academic year 2021-22 was turned down.

By placing reliance on the relevant portions of Section 28 & 29 of the NMC Act the petitioner submitted that the NMC was obliged to take a decision regarding approval or disapproval for increase of seats by taking into account the criteria mentioned in Section 29 of the said Act.

The petitioner argued that on the one hand, increase of seats for the petitioner’s institution was declined on the basis of CBI’s letter dated 22-07-2021 and on the other hand, other colleges who were similarly situated were given the benefit of increase of seats institution. The petitioner submitted, even otherwise, pendency of CBI enquiry/investigation could not be a ground to deny approval to petitioner institution as there was no expressed substantive provision empowering the authorities to do so.

The petitioner submitted that even during inspection the shortage of teaching faculty was found to the tune of only 1.25% (2 out of 159) which was negligible in a case of sudden inspection. While the infrastructure facility, clinical material, library, laboratory and teaching faculties were found to be adequate.

Findings and Opinion

Section 28 of the NMC Act makes it clear that the Medical Assessment and Rating Board was required to take a decision to approve or disapprove the scheme of establishing any course or increase of numbers of seats based on the criteria mentioned in Clause (a) to (d) of Section 29 of the said Act. Therefore, oping that CBI’s self contained note by no stretch of imagination could be a reason for approving or disapproving the scheme, the Bench held that NMC declining increase of seats was based on a reason beyond the scope of Section 28 and 29 of the NMC Act.

Appreciating the petitioner’s submission that the penalty imposed in the impugned order was without authority of law as the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999 do not permit the NMC to impose such a punishment. Hence, in the absence of any enabling provision in the governing statute, the Bench held that the punishment imposed could not sustain judicial scrutiny.

On the issue of there being available alternate remedies, the Bench observed that the since the impugned order was outside the scope and ambit of the NMC Act, the petitioner could not be relegated to avail the remedy of appeal under Sub Section 5 of Section 28 of the Act. Moreover, the  impugned order contained singular reason based on CBI’s self contained note and despite the fact that said note contained the name of petitioner college and other five colleges, the respondents had granted benefit to People’s College and Index Medical College which was also in that list. Hence, the decision was discriminatory also and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Relying on Whirlpool Corporation vs. Registrar of Trade Marks, (1998) 8 SCC 1, the Bench stated that the statutory remedy is not a bar for exercising of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution if order is passed without following principles of natural justice, it hits any fundamental right, passed by an incompetent authority or constitutionality of a provision is called in question, in such cases, despite availability of alternative remedy, writ petition can be entertained.

Conclusion

In the light of the above, the Bench held that since the CBI’s self contained note could not form basis for ‘letter of disapproval’, there was no justification in sending the matter for consideration to the appellate authority. Further, since very short time was left for the next counselling, the Bench concluded that the petitioner could not be relegated to avail the alternative remedy of appeal.

Hence, applying wednesbury principles, the Bench quashed the impugned order. The NMC was directed to take a fresh decision on the application of petitioner for increase of MBBS seats from 150 to 250 strictly within the four corners of Section 28, 29 and other provisions of NMC Act before 08-02-2022. [L.N. Medical College & Research Centre v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 204, decided on 03-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant ha reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Siddharth Radhe Lal Gupta, Advocate

For Union of India: J.K. Jain, Assistant Solicitor General

For National Medical Commission:  Anoop Nair, Advocate

For State of Madhya Pradesh: Akshay Pawar, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of D.N. Patel, CJ and Jyoti Singh, J., dismisses Dr Subramanian Swamy’s plea stating that any delay in the process of disinvestment of Air India would cause loss to public exchequer, besides creating uncertainty amongst the existing employees.

Factual Matrix

The process of disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries commenced in June, 2017 with the in-principle approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. A policy decision to disinvest was taken after following the transparent procedure through multi-layered decision making, involving Inter-Ministerial Group, Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment and the empowered Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism at the apex Ministerial level, with support for the entire process from reputed Transaction Adviser, Legal Adviser and Asset Valuer.

Advertisements inviting bids mentioned that the Government would cease to be responsible for loss after the date of disinvestment.

Submissions of Dr Subramanian Swamy (Petitioner)

He submitted that the Air India Disinvestment process was arbitrary, unconstitutional, unfair, discriminatory and unreasonable and the same could not be sustained in law. The said process also violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India as well as against the interest of national integrity and security due to an ongoing investigation against Air Asia (India) Private Limited.

Further, it was urged that since there were only two financial bids, out of which one bidder was the Consortium led by Mr Ajay Singh, effectively the bidding process was a mere sham only to fulfil the technical requirement of there being more than one bidder. It was obvious that the whole process was collusive and tailor-made to facilitate Respondent 6 acquiring Air India.

Adding to the above submissions, the petitioner repeatedly stated that he was aggrieved by the methodology of valuation, which according to him was arbitrary, corrupt, illegal and against the public interest.

Hence, the petitioner sought a direction for quashing the Air India disinvestment process as also directing CBI to investigate the role and functioning of the official respondents, involved in the disinvestment process.

Mr Harish Salve, Senior Counsel on behalf of respondent 6 urged that the present petition was a challenge to a policy decision taken almost five years ago and was highly belated.

Decision

High Court found no reason to entertain the present Public Interest litigation for the following facts and reasons:

  • Neither Tata Sons Private Limited nor Respondent 6 are facing any criminal proceedings in relation to the subject matter of WP (C) 5909 of 2013 or in any other matter. Both Respondent 6, as well as Tata Sons Limited, are Indian entities and therefore, no question arises of violation of Foreign Direct Investment Policy, in any event. Moreover, AirAsia (India) Private Limited has no interest in M/s Talace Private Limited, who is the highest bidder.
  • No charge sheet had been filed in any criminal proceedings against Air Asia (India) Private Limited or Talace Private Limited or Tata Sons Limited, as on date, in the matter pertaining to Air Asia and accordingly, no ground for disqualification of respondent 6 was made out.
  • Since SpiceJet Limited was not a member of the Consortium, thus any proceedings pending against SpiceJet Limited will be of no consequence and would not result in disqualification of the Consortium, having Mr Ajay Singh, as the lead member. There was no material on record which would support the allegations of the petitioner that respondent 6 colluded with Mr Ajay Singh’s Consortium or was aware of the Consortium’s bidding strategy.
  • Methodology of Valuation: In the light of the excessive debt and other liabilities of Air India, arising out of huge accumulated losses, the bidding construct was revised in October, 2020, to allow the prospective bidders an opportunity to resize the balance sheet and increase chances of receiving bids and competition.

The apprehension of the Petitioner was based upon a news report in one of the newspapers that the Government sought Parliament’s nod to infuse over Rs 62,000 crores to its Company that holds Air India’s debt, liabilities and some non-core assets, whereas in October, 2021, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (“DIPAM”) Secretary had stated that net liability on Government after Air India’s privatization amounted to Rs 28,844 crores.

Mr Harish Salve, Senior Counsel had clearly brought out the exact import of the said article. The article was self-explanatory and indicated the balance amounts due, including interest liabilities towards working capital and aircraft loans, lease rentals, owing to the oil companies and to the Airports Authority of India and did not read in the manner sought to be read by the Petitioner. Thus, there was no substance in these allegations.

  • Lastly, the submission that Air India was a profitable enterprise until 2004 should not have been privatized, the same did not appeal to this Court and was not even germane to the issue in question.

The process of disinvestment of Air India was a policy decision by the Central Government, taken after due deliberations, at various levels and was not open to interference in judicial review by this Court, exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

High Court found merit in the submission of respondents 1 to 4 that each day, approximately Rs 20 crores are being invested to run the Airline by the Government. The successful bidder needs to invest huge capital to infuse new life into the concerned Airline.

Respondents 1 to 4 have been working towards closing of the disinvestment process, at the earliest and any further delay shall cause loss to the public exchequer, besides creating uncertainty amongst the existing employees, with regard to their future prospects and it needs no gainsaying that public interest shall be adversely affected.

Therefore, in view of the above discussion, the petition was dismissed. [Dr Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 34, decided on 6-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Dr Subramanian Swamy, Petitioner-in- Person with Ms Ramni Taneja, Mr Satya Sabharwal and Mr Vishesh Kanodia, Advocates

For the Respondents:

Mr Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General with Mr Chetan Sharma, Additional Solicitor General, Mr Amit Mahajan, Central Government Standing Counsel, Mr Dhruv Pande, Ms Amita Gupta Katragadda, Ms Preksha Malik, Mr Kaustubh Rai and Ms Isha Chaudhary, for Respondents 1 to 4.

Mr Nikhil Goel, Special Public Prosecutor for Respondent 5.

Mr Harish Salve, Senior Advocate with Ms Anuradha Dutt, Mr Lynn Pereira, Ms Feresthe Sethna, Mr Haaris Fazili and Mr Kunal Dutt, Advocates for Respondent 6.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J., dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of the lower court refusing to discharge the accused-appellant.

Instant application questions the propriety, correctness and legality of the order by which the Sessions Judge CBI, Greater Mumbai, refused to discharge the applicant from the case registered against him.

Central Bureau of Investigation registered the FIR under Section 120 B read with Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 of the Penal Code, 1860 on the basis of written complaint of D.G Kallatti, Deputy General Manager of Central Bank of India against Ashoka Property Developers and Ashish Communication Systems, its Directors/Guarantors and thirteen other, including two bankers and the applicant-accused 11.

Complainant alleged that the accused entered into a criminal conspiracy in the year 2001 to cheat, the Central Bank of India to the tune of Rs 17 crores by creating false and fabricated documents and further dishonestly suppressing material information, in respect of immovable properties, which were offered as collateral security either by its over-valuation or other for availing credit facilities and misutilising the same.

As per the investigation, the applicant had directed Ravikumar Bhil to open another bank account in the name of M/s Hindustan Enterprises in Indusind Bank. The said amount was used for siphoning the crime proceeds from M/s Aashish Communication Systems to the tune of Rs 80,80,000.

The four facts which were disclosed, were as follows:

(i)that though, crime proceeds were credited in the bank accounts of M/s Ahemdabad Sales Corporation, and M/s Hindustan Enterprises, these accounts were opened and operated by Mr Bhil (applicant’s employee) as per the directions of the applicant.

(ii) statement of Ravikumar Bhil recorded under Sections 169 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code would disclose the said fact.

(iii)statement of Ganesh Mokal, Assistant Manager of Kotak Mahindra Bank, confirms that money was transferred to the Account of M/s. Ahmedabad Sales Corporation from the account of M/s. Ashish Communication System, and that amount of Rs1,35,25,000/- was transferred to the account of M/s Flextough Metal in IDBI Bank, which belongs to the co-accused.

(iv) no business transactions were held between M/s Ashish Communication Systems and M/s Ahmedabad Sales Corporation, M/s Hindustan Enterprises.

Question

Whether the above stated were grounds for proceeding against the applicant-accused?

Settled Law:

The judge while considering the question of framing the charges under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code, has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not, a prima facie case against the accused has been made out.

Court stated that the statement of witness recorded under Section 164 of the Code, was not substantive evidence and though it can be used only to corroborate or contradict that witness, the fact remained that, applicant was the owner of Ahmedabad Express Newspapers.

It was further added that, undisputedly, Mr Bhil was his employee. If that be so, it was inconceivable that Mr Bhil would open two bank accounts, one in the name of Ahemdabad Sales Corporation and another, Hindustan Enterprises and would receive lacs and crore of rupees, soon after, the accounts were opened.

Therefore, in view of the facts of the present matter, there was no reason to discard and disbelieve the statement of Mr Bhil, which indeed disclosed applicant’s complicity in the crime.

Hence, the revision application was rejected. [Kalpesh Jayram Koshti v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 4947, decided on 6-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr B.B. Tiwari i/by. BBT Legal, Advocate for the applicant.

Ms Ameeta Kuttikrishnan, Advocate for respondent 1.

Mr A.D. Khamkhedkar, APP for State-respondent 2.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J., expressed that it is settled law that at the stage of framing the charge, the trial court is required to consider whether there are sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and at that time, trial court is required to consider only police report referred to under Section 173 of the Code and documents sent with.  

Instant application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 challenged the order of the CBI which declined to direct investigator to produce the documents sought by the applicant (accused).

Factual Background

CBI registered a complaint against the applicant, Deputy Commissioner of Customs and others under Section 120-B of IPC and Section 7, 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

After completion of the investigation, charge-sheet was filed against the applicant and seven others. Whereafter, the applicant-accused approached the trial Court with the prayer that the entire material with the investigator which was not made part of the charge sheet, be summoned under Section 91 of the CrPC. Certain documents were sought for production by the applicant.

Application under Section 91 of the CrPC was moved at the stage of framing of charge wherein the applicant pleaded that production of aforesaid documents was necessary for proving the innocence of the applicant and also to assist this Court to decide the charges levelled against him.

Applicants Grounds:

Ground (aa): Documents as are necessary to substantiate his non-involvement and false implication in the present case and hence, he has right to claim copies of the documents as well as request the Court for production of documents as same should be brought before the Hon’ble Court in the interest of justice;

Ground (bb): That “Even at the stage of charge, the Court can consider the documents in favour of the applicant, which are of sterling quality and, therefore, such documents would assist the Court in framing the charge or discharging the applicant (emphasis supplied). Evidently, therefore, production of the documents was sought at the stage of framing charge, either for proving the innocence or for rebutting the charges levelled against him.

Question for Consideration:

Whether the accused has right to seek production of documents at the stage of framing charge, which are in custody of investigating agency, but were not produced along with the report?

Analysis, Law and Decision

Settled Law:

Although at the stage of framing of charge, the defence has no right to invoke Section 91 of the CrPC, yet, at the appropriate stage, the Court is empowered to summon production of such documents, which is not part of the charge-sheet but of sterling quality, which has been withheld by the investigator to ensure fair and impartial trial.

Applicant had sought production of about 23 documents. Except for the statement Custom Officer and Superintendent recorded under Section 161 CrPC, other documents or things were in the nature of reports submitted by the Investigating Officer to Supervisory Officer.

Such report submitted by the Investigating Officer to the Supervisory officer is stated to be ‘confidential’ document and it’s primary purpose is to apprise the Superior Officer and law officers of the CBI the result of the enquiries with a view to assess the merits and de-merits of a case and facilitate the passing of the final orders thereon by the Competent Authority.

Bench stated that, prosecution has rightly declined to produce the documents, which were in the nature of supervisory notes, of which the primary purpose was to apprise the superior officer, the result of investigation/enquiry before , “submitting the Final Report” in the Court.

Applicant sought directions to an investigator, to produce statements of two witnesses recorded by him under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, by invoking Section 91 of the CrPC.

Thus, second question is:

Whether expression “Document or other thing” employed in Section 91 of the CrPC, includes a statement of witnesses recorded under Section 161(3) of the CrPC?

Section 91(1) of CrPC empowers the Court to direct production of any “document or other things”.

As per Section 161 of CrPC, police officer reduces into writing any statement made to him in the course of the investigation and the person whose statement is reduced into writing is not required to sign such document. Statement recorded by the police during the investigation is inadmissible in evidence and its’ only purpose is to contradict witness in the manner provided under Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. As against this, ‘document’ denotes any matter expressed upon any substance by means of letters intended to be used as evidence of that matter.

Documentary Evidence

Expression “Document” or other thing” used under Section 91 of the CrPC excludes statement of witness recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC.

Hence, application moved by the applicants under Section 91 of CrPC seeking directions to the investigator to produce statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161(3) of CrPC was not maintainable.

Expression “hearing his submissions” of the accused cannot mean the opportunity to file material but confined to material produced by the police in this case.

“…averments in application moved under section 91 as well as grounds taken up in the application before this Court clearly indicate and suggest that application was seeking production of documents for its consideration, while framing the charge which is not permissible, as this right, is not acknowledged in the Code.”

In view of the application was disposed of. [Mukesh P. Meena v. CBI, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 4566, decided on 26-11-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr Asutosh Shukla with Mr Pradosh Tiwari for the Applicant.

Mr K.S. Patil for the Respondent-CBI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud* and B V Nagarathna, JJ., partly allowed the petition challenging Union Government’s disinvestment of its shareholding in Hindustan Zinc Ltd. (HZL). The Bench, though held that the government was within its powers to disinvest its shares, it was of the opinion that a full-fledged CBI enquiry was required regarding previous disinvestment by the government. The Bench stated,

“There is no bar on the constitutional power of this Court to direct the CBI to register a regular case, in spite of its decision to close a preliminary enquiry.”

HZL was incorporated as a public sector company to develop the mining and smelting capacities, so as to substantially fulfil the domestic demand for zinc and lead. In 1991-92, the Union Government disinvested 24.08 per cent of its shareholding in HZL and again in 2002 it disinvested 26 per cent of its shareholding in HZL to a ‘strategic partner, Sterlite Opportunities & Ventures Ltd. (SOVL). Consequently, the Union Government was left with an equity holding of 49.92 per cent.

Res Judicata and PILs

While determining the issue that the first relief sought by the petitioners, i.e. residual disinvestment can occur only after the amendment of the Nationalisation Act 1976 was  substantially similar to the reliefs sought by Maton Mines Mazdoor Sangh when the disinvestment of 2002 and 2014, the Bench opined that the Court must be alive to the contemporary reality of “ambush Public Interest Litigations” and interpret the principles of res judicata or constructive res judicata in a manner which does not debar access to justice. The Bench expressed,

“While determining the applicability of the principle of res judicata under Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, the Court must be conscious that grave issues of public interest are not lost in the woods merely because a petition was initially filed and dismissed, without a substantial adjudication on merits.”

Considering that the three judges Bench had rejected the petition filed by Maton Mines Mazdoor Singh in limine, without a substantive adjudication on the merits of their claim, the Bench held that the instant petition was not barred by res judicata.

Whether disinvestment was barred by the Nationalisation Act 1976?

Relying on the object of the Nationalisation Act, 1976 which was to acquire control over the strategic mineral deposits of lead and zinc, since zinc plays important role in the country’s economy, the petitioners contended that disinvestment could not be made without amending the Nationalisation Act 1976. Assailing the contention of the petitioners, the Union Government made following submissions:

  1. After 16 March 1999, the mining of zinc has ceased to retain a strategic character, given the changes in industrial policy.
  2. There was no challenge to the disinvestment which took place in 1991-92 or in 2002.
  3. The HZL had ceased to retain its status as a government company within the meaning of Section 617 of the Companies Act 1956.

In view of the above, the Bench opined that it would be inconsistent to read an implied limitation on the transfer by the Union Government of its residual shareholding in HZL representing 29.54 per cent of the equity capital. Considering that HZL was not a government company, the Bench stated, when a decision has been taken by the government as a shareholder of a company to sell its shares, it acts as any other shareholder in a company who makes the decision on the basis of financial and economic exigencies.

Whether the decision in Centre for Public Interest Litigation would result in a bar on the disinvestment of the residual shareholding?

In Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, (2003) 7 SCC 532, the Court had held that that the divestment of the shareholding of the Union Government in HPCL and BPCL, as a result of which the companies would cease to be government companies, could not be undertaken without amending the statutes under which they were nationalized. Distinguishing the decision in Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the Bench stated that HPCL and BPCL were government companies when the disinvestment action was challenged while HZL ceased to be a government company as a consequence of the disinvestment in 2002, since its shareholding fell below 51 per cent. The Bench opined,

“The fact that the Union Government is amenable to the norms set out in Part III of the Constitution would not impose a restraint on its capacity to decide, as a shareholder, to disinvest its shareholding, so long as the process of disinvestment is transparent and the Union Government is following a process which comports with law and results in the best price being realized for its shareholding.”

Hence, the Bench held that the decision of the Union Government, as an incident of its policy of disinvestment, to sell its shares in the open market, could not be questioned by reading a bar on its powers to do so, from the provisions of the Nationalisation Act 1976.

CBI’s preliminary enquiry

Evidently, in spite of conflicting opinion of the Director of CBI and the Director of Prosecution, CBI regarding the closure of the preliminary enquiry and conversion of it into a regular case; and the fact that the matter was referred to the Attorney General but the Court was not apprised of the status of referral, the preliminary enquiry was closed.

Upon perusal of reports and recommendations in favour of registration of a regular case, which indicated irregularities in the decision to disinvest 26 per cent, instead of 25 per cent, in the bidding process and the valuation of 26 per cent equity for disinvestment, the Bench opined that the disinvestment in 2002 evinced a prime facie case for registration of a regular case. The Bench stated,

“We are desisting from commenting on some crucial facts and names of individuals involved, so as to not cause prejudice to the investigation of the matter.”

Accordingly, opining that there was a prima facie case for cognizable offence, as mandated in para 9.1 of the CBI Manual, the Bench held that a full-fledged investigation must be conducted.

Hence, the petition was partially allowed. The CBI was directed to register a regular case and periodically submit status reports of its investigation to the Court.

[National Confederation of Officers Association of Central Public Sector Enterprises v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1086, decided on 18-11-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 


Appearance by:

For the Petitioners: Prashant Bhushan, Senior Counsel

For Union of India: Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General

For Sterlite Opportunities & Ventures Ltd. (SOVL): Harish Salve, Senior Counsel


*Judgment by: Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., expressed that,

“…while passing an order of inspection of unrelied upon documents, the Court is bound to strike a balance between the competing interest of ensuring a fair trial to the accused as also maintaining the sanctity of further investigation, in case further investigation is to be carried on.”

CBI challenged the impugned order passed by the Special Judge filed by the accused under Section 207 Criminal Procedure Code seeking supply of documents.

By the impugned order, Special Judge noted that the documents sought through these applications were broadly:

  1. Deficient documents
  2. Dim or illegible copies
  3. Incomplete or torn documents
  4. Part of documents which have been filed in Court by CBI
  5. The documents though seized or collected during investigation, but not filed in Court
  6. The documents referred to or reflected in correspondence of CBI and other authorities or in statements of witnesses

Contention of the CBI

CBI submitted that the respondent cannot seek production of the documents at this stage as any document which was required to be produced under Section 91 CrPC can be utilized by the accused at the stage of defence only to prove his innocence as held by the Supreme Court in (2005) 1 SCC 568, State of Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi.

Counsel for the CBI added that it is impossible for the CBI to pre-empt and segregate the documents which may be required later during investigation though not required for investigation at present. Since all documents relied upon by the CBI have been provided to the accused, no prejudice has been caused to them and their right to fair trial has also not been infringed.

The right of fair trial has to be not only from the perspective of the accused but also from the rights of the society at large.

 In the present case after the Court took cognizance and was in the process of supplying documents, applications were filed under Section 207 CrPC wherein to ensure a fair trial, the impugned order had been passed by the Special Court keeping due regard to the fact that at that stage it was deciding neither the relevancy of the unrelied documents nor whether they were of sterling quality.

It was noted that the accused were not producing any document of their own but wanting to inspect and seek documents that were in the possession of CBI and were being kept back from the Court.

At the time of framing of charge an accused can bring to the notice of the Court that an unrelied document recovered during the course of investigation and kept back by the investigating agency is relevant and has a bearing on the prosecution case only if the accused was aware of the said document.

High Court stated that the counsel for the CBI before this Court was that since the further investigation is going on, permitting the accused or their representatives to inspect the documents lying in Malkhana will hinder the investigation.

Bench noted that trial court had already clarified that the permission to conduct inspection being granted by the Court was not in respect of those documents in relation to which the investigation by the CBI was still pending.

Hence, CBI’s apprehension that inspection would hinder in further investigation was wholly unwarranted.

V.K. Sasikala v. State, (2012) 9 SCC 771  Supreme Court noted a common feature that seizure of a large number of documents takes place in the course of investigation in a criminal case and that after completion of the process of investigation and before submission of the report under Section 173 CrPC., the investigating officer is bound to apply its mind to the two sets of documents i.e. the one which support the prosecution case and the other which support the accused, however, it is not impossible to visualise a situation where the documents favouring the accused are not forwarded to the Court, even though the prayer in the said case was in relation to the documents forwarded to the Court but not relied by the prosecution.

Further, Clause 12.32 of the CBI (Crime) Manual 2020 also lays down the procedure of inspection of documents kept in the Malkhana on Court order. Thus Clause 12.32 of the CBI (Crime) Manual 2020 recognizes the right of the accused to carry out inspection as per the procedure laid down in the manual of CBI.

Concluding the matter, Court held that in view of the above discussion and the Supreme Court decision, this Court found no infirmity in the impugned order passed by the Special Judge.

Hence the petition was dismissed. [CBI v. Inx Media Pvt. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4932, decided on 10-11-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Anupam S Sharma, SPP for CBI with Ms Sudha Rani Ralangi, Director of Prosecution-CBI, Mr Prakarsh Airan and Ms Harpreet Kalsi, Advs.

For the Respondents:

Mr. Shailesh Poria, Adv. for R-1. Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Sr. Adv. with Mr. Akshat Gupta, Mr. Pankaj Singhal and Ms. Shubhangi Jain, Advs. for R-3.

Mr. Pramod Kumar Dubey, Sr. Adv. with Mr. Nitin Saluja, Mr. Vikalp Sharma and Mr. Akshat Sharma, Advs. for R-4.

Mr. Vikas Pathak, Adv. for R-7.

Mr. Kumar Vaibhaw, Mr. Himanshu Gupta, Mr. Mohd. Ashaad, Advs. for R-8.

Mr. Aditya Wadhwa, Mr. Sougat Mishra and Mr. Ayush Shrivastava, Advs. for R-9.

Mr. Sidharth Aggarwal, Sr. Adv. with Mr. Varaz Maqbool, Mr. Abhinav Sekhri, Mr. Chandan Kumar and Mr. Chaitanya Sundariyal, Advs. for R-10.

Mr. Vikas Arora and Ms. Radhika Arora, Advs. for R-11.

Mr. Sandeep Kapur, Mr. Mridul Yadav, Mr. Aashneet Singh Anand, Advs. for R-13.

Mr. N. Hariharan, Sr. Adv. with Mr. Arshdeep Singh Khurana, Mr.Ayush Aggarwal, Mr.Siddharth S. Yadav, Mr.Varun Deswal, Ms. Akriti G. Mittal, Mr.Harsh Mittal, Advs. for R- 14.

Tripura High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ and S.G. Chattopadyay, J., decided in a petition which was filed by the wife of deceased since the police failed to make arrests of the accused persons or to include the provisions of Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter to be referred to as “SC ST Act”), her husband had died due to injuries caused by a violent mob with deadly weapons in an incident which took place on 22nd October 2020 and belonged to a Scheduled Tribe(ST).

Petitioner, her husband and his brother were allotted lands under Forest Rights Act, 2006 under two separate allotment orders both dated 3rd May 2009. The non-tribal residents of the area wanted to grab these lands. Complaints of illegal land grabbing of the tribals by non-tribals were also made to the Minister of Tribal Welfare and Forest in November 2018 who had asked the SDM to look into the matter and do the needful. This couldn’t lead to a resolution thus finally petition was filed.

The prayers were as follows:

(i) For transferring the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

(ii) To invoke the penal provisions of SC ST Act against the perpetrators.

(iii) To declare Burshingpara village under Kanchanpur Police Station as an identified area in terms of Section 2(c) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 (hereinafter to be referred to as “the said Rules of 1995”).

(iv) To deploy sufficient force in the area to protect the resident members of Scheduled Tribe.

(v) To provide compensation of Rs.8,25,000/- to the petitioner and the dependents of the deceased in terms of the Rules of 1995 and to provide other support such as family pension and Government job to one member.

(vi) To order inquiry against Officer-in-Charge of Kanchanpur Police Station and Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Kanchanpur for willful neglect of duties which led to murder of the husband of the petitioner. The contention of the petitioner and her counsel is that the investigation carried out by the police authorities so far is just eyewash.

The Court found out that this case was not a fit case where the investigation should be handed over to the CBI. Undoubtedly, the High Court as a Constitutional Court and a Writ Court has the power to transfer such investigation to the CBI even without the consent of the State Government as is laid down by series of judgments of Supreme Court further holding that this case did not presents such rare or exceptional circumstances where the

CBI should be involved. However, looking to the slow progress in the investigation and the past incidents noted in the earlier portion of this judgment, the investigation must be taken away from the purview of the local police authorities and be handed over to a Special Investigation Team(SIT) that shall be constituted by this Court.

The Court further directed the following:

  • Offences punishable under Section 3(2)(v) and (v-a) of SC ST Act shall be added to the investigation.
  • Further investigation shall be carried out by a Special Investigation Team(SIT) which would be headed by the Superintendent of the District, assisted by the Dy.S.P who shall work under the guidance and supervision of the S.P.
  • Request for transferring the investigation to CBI is refused.
  • The State-administration shall proceed to determine the compensation payable to the family of the victim at appropriate stage in terms of the provisions contained in the SC ST Act and the Rules made thereunder in view of the addition of the offences punishable under the SC ST Act. In the meantime, an ad-hoc amount of Rs.5,00,000/- shall be paid over to the petitioner, widow of the deceased Pindulal Chakma which payment shall be adjusted towards the compensation that may be found payable under the provisions of the SC ST Act and the Rules made thereunder or under the scheme framed by the State Government for financial assistance from the Chief Minister Discretionary Fund, as the case may be. This amount shall be paid within 1(one) month from today.
  • The Home Department shall take a final decision without any further delay and in any case, within 1(one) month from today with respect to the proposal for declaring the village in question as a disturbed area in terms of Section 2(c) of the SC ST Act.
  • Further prayers of the petitioner for grant of family pension Government job to the member of the family of the deceasedmust rest on the outcome of the investigation particularly with respect to commission of offence under SC ST Act and the Government schemes in this regard which are not brought on record by either side. We, therefore, refrain from giving any such directions and leave it open to the petitioner to agitate these prayers in future if the circumstances so justify.
  • The original papers pertaining to the case which are placed before us may be returned to the respondents.

[Buddhapati Chakma v. State of Tripura, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 539, decided on 11-10-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI, Ghaziabad- Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), while rejecting the closure report of the CBI, accepted the protest petition and directed for further investigation in Pravin Chanam murder case. The Court while criticising the shoddy investigation stated,

“…it may be noted that there are many lapses on the part of UP Police which has hauled this case with open ends. This court is in deep pain to note that due to such lapses, the parents and family of the deceased did not even get a chance to see the dead body of the deceased or to perform the last rites of their late son”.

In the pertinent matter, it was alleged in the FIR that Pravish Chanam (deceased) went missing from a concert of an international music band ‘Chain Smokers’, Greater Noida on 08-09-2017, for which a missing complaint was lodged on 09-09-2017. The dead body of the deceased was found and cremated on 13-09-17. It was further alleged that ‘despite desperate pursuance’, the family came to know about the death only after the cremation of his body. The family thus claimed negligence on the part of the police/local authorities and suspected criminal intent with the possibility of organ trafficking, after the post mortem report mentioned a number of injuries. Moreover, it was further submitted that the brother only got to know about the deceased on 14-07-2017, whereas the FIR was lodged on 09-09-2017 itself. Also, it was observed that there was a ‘failure in transmission of information’ regarding the missing report of the deceased from the Police Station to the control room, which could have disseminated the information further.

Interestingly, Dr. G. Khan, Joint Director, FSL, Lucknow had also stated that the post mortem report was not up to the mark, which got later corroborated from the Forensic department of AIIMS, New Delhi.

The CBI mentioned in the closure report that since the death appeared as an accident without any criminal intent, further ruling out the possibility of criminal conspiracy, deserves a closure report to be filed. Subsequently, a protest petition was filed by the family.

The Court took note of several facts, which appeared contrary to each other and while giving due weightage to the most natural witnesses, stated,

“if the most natural witnesses, infront of whom the deceased were on his death bed and was taken to hospital by police have stated there was only one bandage on right leg and one one right arm. It is hard to believe that the injuries on face and forehead, and other injury of around 47 cms on left thigh of the deceased mentioned in post mortem report were not visible to them. Investigation agencies have failed to put forth this point that as to when and how those injuries were made when all of such independent and natural witnesses have stated about the injuries which do not fall in line with the injuries mentioned in Post Mortem Report”.

The Court after considering the statements of the witnesses, evidences, CCTV footages, Post Mortem Report, raised questions on the unavailability of crucial witnesses in the investigation, who could have played a pivotal role. And found it hard to believe that the friends who accompanied the deceased to the concert, who even submitted that they waited for the deceased at the venue, did not meet the Doctor with the ambulance at the same venue.

Therefore, while lambasting the UP Police, the Court exclaimed,

“Keeping in view the abovesaid observations, it can be said that there is something more than what is being portrayed through sketched illustrations. The intention to outwit and hoodwink the court with the almost deluded closure report thus become latently apparent. Thus, in considered view of this court, further investigation is required to be done. Accordingly, the protest petition is allowed, closure report filed by CBI in RC 5 (S)/2019/CBI/SCB/ Lucknow is hereby rejected. CBI is directed to further investigate the case. And said, The shoddy investigation done by UP Police in the present case with sinister potential with regard to human life deserves strong disapproval by this court. Such manner shown by the police strikes a blow at rule of law. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer had very aptly said, ‘Who will police the Police?’”.

[Phanjoubam Linthoingambi v. C.B.I., RC 5 (S)/2019/CBI/SCB/ Lucknow, decided on 13-10-2021]


Agatha Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Vikram Nath and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that a Preliminary Enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption.

The Court said that in case the information received by the CBI, through a complaint or a “source information”, discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, it can directly register a Regular Case instead of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry, where the officer is satisfied that the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence.

Holding that the institution of a Preliminary Enquiry in cases of corruption is not made mandatory before the registration of an FIR under the CrPC, Prevention of Corruption Act or even the CBI Manual, the Court said that issuing a direction to that affect will be “tantamount to stepping into the legislative domain.” 

However, it was made clear that holding the aforesaid will not take away from the value of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry in an appropriate case.

“The registration of a Regular Case can have disastrous consequences for the career of an officer, if the allegations ultimately turn out to be false. In a Preliminary Enquiry, the CBI is allowed access to documentary records and speak to persons just as they would in an investigation, which entails that information gathered can be used at the investigation stage as well. Hence, conducting a Preliminary Enquiry would not take away from the ultimate goal of prosecuting accused persons in a timely manner. However, we once again clarify that if the CBI chooses not to hold a Preliminary Enquiry, the accused cannot demand it as a matter of right.”

Important rulings

Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1

If the information received discloses the commission of a cognizable offence at the outset, no Preliminary Enquiry would be required. Further, the scope of a Preliminary Enquiry is not to check the veracity of the information received, but only to scrutinize whether it discloses the commission of a cognizable offence.

Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761

The Court reversed the decision of a two Judge Bench in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 [Read more] which had, inter alia, held that “a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Scheduled Cases and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated”.

The three Judge Bench held that such a direction was impermissible since neither the CrPC nor the Atrocities Act mandate a preliminary inquiry.

“In case a cognizable offence is made out, the FIR has to be outrightly registered, and no preliminary inquiry has to be made (…). The direction would mean that even if a complaint made out a cognizable offence, an FIR would not be registered until the preliminary inquiry is held. In case a preliminary inquiry concludes that allegations are false or motivated, FIR is not to be registered, in such a case how a final report has to be filed in the Court. Direction 79.4 cannot survive for the other reasons as it puts the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a disadvantageous position in the matter of procedure vis-à-vis to the complaints lodged by members of upper caste, for latter no such preliminary investigation is necessary. In that view of the matter it should not be necessary to hold preliminary inquiry for registering an offence under the Atrocities Act, 1989.”

Read more…

Charansingh v. State of Maharashtra,  (2021) 5 SCC 469

An enquiry at pre-FIR stage is held to be permissible and not only permissible but desirable, more particularly in cases where the allegations are of misconduct of corrupt practice acquiring the assets/properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. After the enquiry/enquiry at pre-registration of FIR stage/preliminary enquiry, if, on the basis of the material collected during such enquiry, it is found that the complaint is vexatious and/or there is no substance at all in the complaint, the FIR shall not be lodged.

However, if the material discloses prima facie a commission of the offence alleged, the FIR will be lodged and the criminal proceedings will be put in motion and the further investigation will be carried out in terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Therefore, such a preliminary enquiry would be permissible only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not and only thereafter FIR would be registered. Therefore, such a preliminary enquiry would be in the interest of the alleged accused also against whom the complaint is made.

Read more…

[CBI v. Thommandru Hannah Vijayalakshmi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 923, 08.10.2021]

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For CBI: Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Solicitor General

For respondents: Senior Advocates Siddharth Luthra and Siddharth Dave


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), while accepting the closure report questioned the delayed investigation by the premier investigation agency of the country. While accepting closure report, the Court stated,

“It may be noted that the collective and cogent evidence/ material gathered by CBI is enough to settle the fact that the allegations of complainant against her father and 26 other accused could not be substantiated”.

The pertinent matter was filed under Sections 368, 342, 354, 376 (2) and 120B IPC, and was transferred to CBI vide the order of the Supreme Court. The petitioner in the writ had alleged that the ordeal began in 2010, when the father and her family coerced her to join the flesh trade/ prostitution, which she reiterated in her statement under Section 164 CrPC. Later, that the accused persons forcibly dragged her out of the Court and took her to various places within Meerut, then to Ludhiana, Punjab, where the entire period the petitioner was assaulted and raped by her father and his relatives (accomplices).  And, even alleged that, during the period of abduction, Sub-Inspector of Police, Deputy-Inspector-General of Police, and Circle Officer of Police molested her.

The CBI had filed its closure report under Section 173 CrPC as the allegations could not be substantiated. A protest petition against such closure was filed, which was even accepted, but after further investigation, again a closure report was filed.

The Court after considering the closure report by CBI and the facts corroborated by the various substantial statements and ‘Psychological Profiling Reports’ and  Behavorial Analysis Interview of the accused persons, victim and the other names involved, opined that,

“witnesses out of total 95 witnesses examined during first investigation has corroborated the allegations” and “During further examination, CBI has examined 8 witnesses and none of the witnesses have supported the allegations of complainant”.

Strikingly, the Court while accepting the closure report of CBI raised doubts and criticised further the manner in which the delayed investigation was conducted. The Court sternly stated,

“However, before parting, it may be noted that the Ld. Predecessor of this court had ordered for further investigation in this case 20/02/2018. IO has submitted the report of further investigation after more than 3 years in 2021. IO has examined 8 witnesses and has submitted 4 documents along with the report of further investigation. It took more than 3 years to the IO to gather such evidence. Also, out of total 8 witnesses Page No. 3 Misc. Case No. 05/21 Rashmi Behl vs. CBI examined by IO in such further investigation, IO has copy-pasted the statements of witnesses Hina Behl and Hitesh Behl. Many paragraphs of their statements are exactly similar. It is a matter of concern. Also, such delayed investigation is not expected from the premier investigation agency of this country, CBI. A copy of this order be sent to worthy HOB, SC-I, New Delhi to look out in this matter from his own end”.

[Rashmi Behl v. CBI, RC 2 (S)/2015/CBI/SC-I, decided on 05-10-2021]


Agatha Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Bureau of Investigation, Ghaziabad (CBI): Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), while acquitting the accused of all the charges gave detailed reasoning for each such offence as alleged by the CBI. The Court after considering the failure to prove the offences based on ‘strong suspicion’ stated that the law was settled on the point, that ‘however strong the suspicion maybe, it cannot take place of proof’, and remarked,

“…with the present evidentiary matrix at hand and the subsisting law, it becomes customarily cardinal to apply germane precepts which has metamorphosed the course of evidentiary value of proof over conjectures”.

In the instant matter it was alleged by the CBI that Prithviraj, accused (A1) prepared a forged letter of the Union of Home Minister with the aide of his uncle Pradeep Kumar Kapil, accused (A2) and Kalpana Sahay, accused (A3) and thereafter used it to get himself transferred from Baghpat to Meerut, UP. It was further stated that out of the 22 witnesses, 7 witnesses had turned hostile. It was submitted by the Prosecution that the spellings in the letter for ‘Government’ and ‘Ministry’ were wrong which rose suspicion to forgery which was later substantiated by the witnesses, according to them. While the defence contended that GEQD report was not clear pertaining to the specimen signatures and no oral testimony of any of the prosecution witness was sufficient to prove that the accused persons were involved in the present case.

The Court after breaking down the ingredients for the offences under IPC and after considering relevant documents, evidences and the testimonies of the witnesses accepted the submission where forgery was alleged. However, on a conjoint reading of the testimonies, concluded that the allegations against the accused could not be proved. The Court stated,

“Though, it is proved that the letter in dispute was not a genuine one but a forged letter but the allegation that the accused Prithviraj had cheated his senior officials by using it cannot be proved. It is also not proved by any of the testimony of prosecution witness or by way of any documentary/ expert evidence that such forged letter was prepared with the aide of accused Pradeep Kumar Kapil and Kalpana Sahay”.

Furthermore was of the opinion that the Prosecution failed to lead evidence as required under Section 417 and 415 IPC. The Court even clarified the offences, the ingredients required under the relevant sections and thus acquitted the three accused under Section 120B read with 417, 468, 471 of IPC.

The Court thus noted, “To avoid verbosity, the precedents set by the Supreme Court should be cohered into, for justice to prevail. With the settled principles of law wherein suspicion cannot take place of proof, irrespective of how well-built it maybe, this court is conscious of this evolved jurisprudence. Therefore, since the CBI has miserably failed to establish the charges, ensuingly mere suspicion cannot stand valid to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt against all of such accused persons”.[CBI v. Prithviraj, RC 2 (S)/2007/SCU.V/CBI/SCR.II,  decided on 17-09-2021]


Agatha Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Bureau of Investigation, Ghaziabad (CBI)-Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI) while taking cognizance under Sections 420, 467, 468 & 471 IPC, made a seething remark in the order where it stated,

“This court fails to understand as to why the substantive offence of forgery was not imposed against the accused by the CBI when it is in consonance with their version only”.

In the pertinent matter, it was alleged that Catmoss Retail Ltd. through its Director (A1) and Ashwani Kumar, Director (A2) procured a loan from SIDBI by submitting forged balance sheets, net worth statements, bills and minutes of the board meetings. And further alleged that various shell firms were also opened by A2 in the names of the employees of the company for raising the fund by using the same firms without any valid business and transactions. Resultantly, the CBI charge sheeted A1 under Section 420 IPC and A2 under Sections 420, 468 r/w 109 and 471 IPC.

The Court after considering the purported act, witnesses, documentary evidences and the “dubious” charges framed by the CBI, took cognizance of the offences under Sections 420, 467, 468 & 471 IPC, and was of the opinion, that when the act was of committing forgery, then only abetment to forgery was not sufficient especially when the CBI itself had set the grounds with no contradictions. The Court was of the opinion, “Ld. PP for CBI and IO has failed to reply as to why the offence of abetment for forgery is implicated against the accused and not the substantive offence of forgery. At this stage, prosecution has also not established that as to who was abetted for the offence of forgery”. Therefore, summoned both A1 and A2 under relevant Sections.[CBI  v. Catmoss Retail Ltd., Misc. Case No. 06/21, decided on 14-09-2021]


Agatha Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While addressing a matter of custodial violence in Tihar Jail, Mukta Gupta, J., stated that:

Walls of prison, howsoever high they may be, the foundation of a prison is laid on the Rule of Law ensuring the rights to its inmates enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Present matter was filed by the mother, sister and brother of Ankit Gujjar who lost his life to custodial violence in Tihar Jail.

Background

Ankit Gujjar, an under-trial prisoner was beaten brutally by the officials of Tihar Jail and despite repeated PCR calls and messages neither was any effort made to save Ankit nor complaint lodged nor FIR registered, nor any evidence collected. Rather a counter-affidavit was registered on the complaint of Jail Officials against Ankit.

Petitioners submitted that the deceased was long being harassed by the officials of Tihar Jail as he was unable to meet the regularly increasing demands of money made by them.

Grievance of the petitioners was that despite the fact that from the first PCR call itself the petitioners family was stating that Ankit was beaten because he failed to comply with the demands of money of the Deputy Superintendent Narender Meena and in this relation they have also provided the numbers to which the amounts were transferred, however, the entire investigation as was evident from the proceedings noted in the FIR as also the status report filed was aimed to show that since there was recovery of a mobile phone, charger and knife from the cell of the deceased, he was being transferred and when he refused to be transferred a scuffle took place, ignoring the genesis of the occurrence that there was demand of money from Narender Meena which was not fulfilled due to which Ankit was mercilessly beaten.

Serious Offence

High Court stated that in case the allegations of the petitioners are correct, it is a very serious offence that requires in-depth investigation to unearth the manner in which alleged extortion was carried out in the prison.

Bench directed for that the investigation of case under Sections 302/323/341/34 IPC be transferred to CBI. Further, a status reports to be filed by the SP concerned.

Proper Inquiry on whether medical treatment was provided to Ankit or not

An investigation not only as to who all committed the offence of brutally beating the deceased Ankit resulting in his death has to be carried out, but the role of jail doctors in not providing proper treatment at the right time is also required to be ascertained by a proper inquiry.

“…necessary rules and regulations so that the police is not denied entry in the jail to conduct an enquiry/investigation into the commission of a cognizable offence are also required to be made.”

 Further, the Court added that the present matter calls for immediate remedial actions by the State and Director General, Prison so that unscrupulous officers at the Jail do not take advantage of the knowledge of the non-working of the CCTVs so that they can get away by doing any illegal act/offences.

“A status report will be filed by the Director General( Prisons) indicating the measures taken to streamline the system as regards the CCTV cameras at the Jail and when the same are not working what alternative measures can be taken in the meantime, accountability of the Jail officers and Jail doctors and the mechanism by which immediate entry is provided to the police to the Jail on receipt of an information of a cognizable offence and the remedial steps taken.”

Petition to be listed on 28-10-2021. [Geeta v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4297, decided on 8-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioners: Mehmood Pracha, Advocate with Shariq Nisar, Sanawar Choudhary, Yashovardhan Ojha and Jatin Bhatt, Advocates.

For the respondents: R.S. Kundu, Additional Standing Counsel for State/Respondent 1 and with Inspector Jeet Ram, P.S. Hari Nagar.

Anil Soni, CGSC for Union of India/Respondent 3.

Rajesh Kumar, Special P.P. for CBI/Respondent 4

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Narayana Pisharadi, J., dismissed the revision petition filed by CBI due to its failure to obtain prior sanction of government before prosecuting public servants.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed the instant revision petition to assail the order of the Special Judge for CBI Cases, Lakshadweep by which it allowed the applications for discharge filed under Section 239 of the CrPC by accused 4 and 8. The accused were alleged for committing the offences punishable under Sections 7, 12 and 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and also under Sections 468, 471, 420 and 120B of the Penal Code.

Background

The prosecution case was that the Directorate of Education of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep had directed to supply, free of cost, ready-made uniforms to the school children for the academic year 2005-06. A Uniform Tender Evaluation, Sample Selection and Procurement Committee was formed in this regard. Pursuant to a conspiracy hatched by the members of the committee with one Nagendran, the approver, sub-standard uniforms were purchased, violating the tender conditions and by making false and forged entries on record. Thereby, the accused who were member of the committee were alleged for benefiting with wrongful gain and causing wrongful loss to the Lakshadweep Administration and a criminal case was registered against them.

Decision of Special CBI Court

However, the Special Court had held that prior sanction under Section 197 of CrPC was necessary to prosecute the accused as they were public servant, accordingly, the prosecution against accused 4 and 8 was held bad for want of sanction and the accused were discharged.

Analysis and Decision

As per Section 197(1) of CrPC, when any person who is or was a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or the State Government.

In Amrik Singh v. State of Pepsu, (1955) 1 SCR 1302, the Supreme Court had held that, “If the acts complained of are so integrally connected with the duties attaching to the office as to be inseparable from them, then sanction under Section 197(1) would be necessary; but if there was no necessary connection between them and the performance of those duties, the official status furnishing only the occasion or opportunity for the acts, then no sanction would be required”. Similarly, in D.Devaraja v. Owais Sabeer Hussain, (2020) 7 SCC 695, after an elaborate discussion of the question, it was held that, “To decide whether sanction is necessary, the test is whether the act is totally unconnected with official duty or whether there is a reasonable connection with the official duty”.

Affirming the reasoning of the Special Court that both the accused did not have expertise in the matter of quality control or checking the standards of stitching or clothes supplied, at the most, they could be blamed only for the omissions in not insisting meetings of the committee. In all probability they might have gone by the certificates issued by the technical member in the committee, hence, they could only be blamed for non feasance, at the most, the Bench stated that the sum and substance of the allegation against accused was that they blindly accepted the certificate issued by Accused 9 without conducting inspection of the uniform materials and consequently, sub-standard materials happened to be purchased.  Hence, the act of accused, who were not experts in the field, in accepting the certificate issued by the technical member of the committee would not take them out of the protection under Section 197(1), which was otherwise available to them.

In the backdrop of above, the Bench held that it was necessary to obtain sanction under Section 197 for prosecution and cognizance of the offences taken against them, without such sanction, was bad in law. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [CBI v. Syed Shaikoya, Crl. Rev.Pet No. 509 of 2012, decided on 01-09-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the State: ASG P.Vijayakumar

For the Respondents: Advocate Glen Antony, Advocate P.Sanjay and Advocate M.Vanaja