Chenna Boyanna Krishna Yadav Vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr  Insc 925 (8 December 2006)
Balakrishnan & D.K. Jain
out of S.L.P.(Criminal) No. 1358 of 2006) D.K. JAIN, J.:
challenge in this appeal is to Order dated 19.9.2005 passed by a learned Single
Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, rejecting the second bail
application preferred by the appellant under Section 439 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short 'the Code').
appellant is an Advocate by profession. In the year 1994 he was elected as a
Member of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Andhra Pradesh. Till the year 1998 he was a
Minister in the Andhra Pradesh Government. In the year 1999 he was again
elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Between the period from
October, 1999 to November, 2001 he was again a Minister holding various
Abdul Karim Ladsab Telgi (hereinafter referred to as 'Telgi') was arrested and
proceeded against for alleged commission of offences of printing and
distributing counterfeit stamps/papers on a very large scale. During
investigations, stamps/papers worth Rs.2,128 crores were seized. A second
search on 11.1.2003 at one of the premises occupied by Telgi, conducted by the
Special Investigating Team, resulted in the recovery of a micro audio cassette.
The said cassette contained recording of alleged conversation between the
appellant and Telgi. The date mentioned on the said cassette is 16.1.1998. On
an analysis of the voice samples of the appellant, the Forensic Laboratory
opined that the voice recorded in the said cassette was that of the appellant.
case of the prosecution, based on the cassette, is that in the year 1998 the
appellant was involved in the kidnapping of two employees of Telgi, namely,
Abdul Wahid and Sadashiva. He demanded a ransom of Rs.2 crores from Telgi for
their release. A deal materialised and as a result thereof the appellant came
closer to Telgi.
friendship between the appellant and Telgi blossomed and as a result wherefor,
the appellant rendered active support and help to Telgi in his alleged unlawful
activities of Organised Crime Syndicate in the State of Andhra Pradesh relating
to printing of counterfeit stamps and other documents and sale thereof. The
allegation, in short, is that the appellant received huge amounts of money from
time to time from the Organised Crime Syndicate, headed by Telgi, and in
return, being an influential political person, provided a protective umbrella
to the Organised Crime Syndicate in carrying out unlawful activities in the
State of Andhra Pradesh, and thus, knowingly facilitated and abetted the
commission of an Organised Crime by the Syndicate of Telgi.
Investigations were initiated by a Special Investigation Team of the Mumbai
Police but later on investigation of the case, along with other 47 cases, was
transferred by this Court to the Central Bureau of Investigation. As a result
of the investigations, a case was registered against the appellant under Sections
120(B), 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 263(A), 420, 467, 468, 471, 472, 473, 474,
475, 476 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. A case was also registered under the
provisions of Section 63(a) and 63(b) of the Bombay Stamps Act, 1958.
Sections 3 and 24 of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crimes Act, 1999
(hereinafter referred to as 'MCOCA') were also invoked. Against some of the
accused, including the appellant, commission of offences under Sections 7 and
13(i)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 were also alleged.
appellant was arrested on 6.9.2003 and was remanded to police custody. Since
26.9.2003 he is in judicial custody. The charge-sheet came to be filed on
29.12.2003. Subsequently some more charge-sheets were filed and finally a
supplementary charge-sheet was filed by the CBI on 26.7.2005. All these
charge-sheets were consolidated into one.
Appellant's first application for bail was rejected by the High Court on
6.8.2004. As noted above his second bail application has been rejected by the
into consideration statements of some of the witnesses and the said tape
recorded conversation between the appellant and Telgi, the learned Judge has
come to the conclusion that, prima facie, there is material on record to show
that the appellant had knowledge about the continuing organised crime of
printing and selling of fake stamps; and he provided protection to continuing
activities of sale of the fake stamps with the knowledge or having reason to
believe that he was engaged in assisting Organised Crime Syndicate of Telgi.
the learned Judge has come to the conclusion that the appellant abetted the
commission of organised crimes.
Umesh U. Lalit, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant, has
submitted that on the basis of the material on record, including the statements
of the four witnesses, referred to in the impugned order, no inference can be
drawn that the appellant was a party to conspiracy or had abetted commission or
facilitation of the crime with which Telgi or other co-accused were associated.
It is urged that the allegation of demand of ransom of Rs.2 crores by the
appellant from Telgi has no nexus with the principal offence alleged under
support from the decision of this Court in Ranjitsing Brahmajeetsing Sharma vs.
State of Maharashtra & Anr. , wherein various provisions of MCOCA,
particularly the definition of the word "abet" contained in Section
2(1)(a) have been considered, learned counsel has contended that even if
prosecution version is taken on its face value, the appellant's alleged
association with Telgi would not bring his case within the ambit of Section
3(2) and at best only Section 24 of MCOCA may be attracted. It is urged that
the maximum punishment provided under Section 24 of MCOCA being three years'
rigorous imprisonment and the appellant having already been in judicial custody
for more than three years, he is entitled to be enlarged on bail. Learned
counsel has also pointed out that at least three co- accused, namely, R.S.
Sharma, Mohammad Chand Mulani and Babanrao Tukaram Ranjane, against whom much
more evidence is available, have already been enlarged on bail by this Court.
Mr. Sushil Kumar, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents, while
opposing the bail to the appellant, has submitted that there is enough evidence
on record to show that the appellant had abetted the said organised activity.
Learned counsel has contended that the allegation regarding kidnapping of two
men belonging to Telgi and demanding ransom cannot be termed as anti-thesis to
the prosecution case and in fact the said act on the part of the appellant was
the beginning of his association with Telgi which ultimately blossomed into
close relationship with Telgi, which led the appellant to actively support the Organised
Crime Syndicate of Telgi and in return he received large amounts from him.
The considerations which normally weigh with the court in granting bail in non-bailable
offences have been explained by this Court in State vs. Capt. Jagjit Singh and Gurcharan
Singh vs. State (Delhi Admn.) and recently in Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal vs.
State of Tamil Nadu , which are:
nature and seriousness of the offence; the character of the evidence; circumstances
which are peculiar to the accused; a reasonable possibility of the presence of
the accused not being secured at the trial; reasonable apprehension of
witnesses being tampered with; the larger interest of the public or the State
and other similar factors which may be relevant in the facts and circumstances
of the case."
However, as the provisions of MCOCA have been invoked in the instant case in
addition to the afore- mentioned broad principles, the limitations imposed in
the provisions contained in sub-section (4) of Section 21 of MCOCA cannot be
lost sight of while dealing with the application for grant of bail. The
relevant provision reads as under:
(2) (3) (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, no person
accused of an offence punishable under this Act shall, if in custody, be
released on bail or on his own bond, unless (a) the Public Prosecutor has been
given an opportunity to oppose the application of such release; and (b) 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.
is plain from a bare reading of the non-obstante clause in the sub-section that
the power to grant bail by the High Court or Court of Sessions is not only
subject to the limitations imposed by Section 439 of the Code but is also
subject to the limitations placed by Section 21(4) of MCOCA. Apart from the
grant of opportunity to the Public Prosecutor, the other twin conditions are:
the satisfaction of the court that there are reasonable grounds for believing
that the accused is not guilty of the alleged offence and that he is not likely
to commit any offence while on bail. The conditions are cumulative and not
alternative. The satisfaction contemplated regarding the accused being not
guilty has to be based on reasonable grounds. The expression "reasonable
grounds" means something more than prima facie grounds. It contemplates
substantial probable causes for believing that the accused is not guilty of the
alleged offence. The reasonable belief contemplated in the provisions requires
existence of such facts and circumstances as are sufficient in themselves to
justify satisfaction that the accused is not guilty of the alleged offence.
Thus, recording of findings under the said provision is a sine qua non for
granting bail under MCOCA.
R.B. Sharma's case (supra), construing the said provision somewhat liberally,
S.B. Sinha, J. speaking for a three-Judge Bench observed thus:- "43.
Section 21(4) of MCOCA does not make any distinction between an offence which
entails punishment of life imprisonment and an imprisonment for a year or two.
It does not provide that even in case a person remains behind the bars for a
period exceeding three years, although his involvement may be in terms of
Section 24 of the Act, the court is prohibited to enlarge him on bail. Each
case, therefore, must be considered on its own facts.
question as to whether he is involved in the commission of organised crime or
abetment thereof must be judged objectively"
The wording of Section 21(4), in our opinion, does not lead to the conclusion
that the court must arrive at a positive finding that the applicant for bail
has not committed an offence under the Act. If such a construction is placed,
the court intending to grant bail must arrive at a finding that the applicant
has not committed such an offence. In such an event, it will be impossible for
the prosecution to obtain a judgment of conviction of the applicant. Such
cannot be the intention of the legislature. Section 21(4) of MCOCA, therefore,
must be construed reasonably. It must be so construed that the court is able to
maintain a delicate balance between a judgment of acquittal and conviction and
an order granting bail much before commencement of trial.
the court will be required to record a finding as to the possibility of his
committing a crime after grant of bail. However, such an offence in future must
be an offence under the Act and not any other offence. Since it is difficult to
predict the future conduct of an accused, the court must necessarily consider
this aspect of the matter having regard to the antecedents of the accused, his
propensities and the nature and manner in which he is alleged to have committed
The duty of the court at this stage is not to weigh the evidence meticulously
but to arrive at a finding on the basis of broad probabilities.
while dealing with a special statute like MCOCA having regard to the provisions
contained in sub-section (4) of Section 21 of the Act, the court may have to
probe into the matter deeper so as to enable it to arrive at a finding that the
materials collected against the accused during the investigation may not
justify a judgment of conviction. The findings recorded by the court while
granting or refusing bail undoubtedly would be tentative in nature, which may
not have any bearing on the merit of the case and the trial court would, thus,
be free to decide the case on the basis of evidence adduced at the trial,
without in any manner being prejudiced thereby."
Bearing in mind the above broad principles, we may now consider the merits of
this stage, it is neither necessary nor desirable to weigh the evidence
meticulously to arrive at a positive finding as to whether or not the appellant
has committed offences under Section 3(2) or Section 24 of MCOCA.
is to be seen is whether there is a reasonable ground for believing that the
appellant is not guilty of the two offences, he has been charged with, and
further that he is not likely to commit an offence under MCOCA while on bail.
As noted above, the circumstance which has weighed with the High Court to
conclude that the appellant had the knowledge of Organised Crime Syndicate of Telgi,
printing fake stamps etc. and these were being sold under the protection of the
appellant and hence he had abetted an organised crime, is the alleged
conversation between him and Telgi in January, 1998, after the kidnapping
incident. In our view, the alleged conversation may show appellant's
acquaintance with Telgi but may not per se be sufficient to prove appellant's
direct role with the commission of an organized crime by Telgi, to bring home
an offence of abetment in the commission of organized crime falling within the
ambit of Section 3(2) of MCOCA and/or that he had rendered any help or support
in the commission of an organized crime whether before or after the commission
of such offence by a member of an organized crime syndicate or had abstained
from taking lawful measures under MCOCA, thus, falling within the purview of
Section 24 of MCOCA.
true that when the gravity of the offence alleged is severe, mere period of
incarceration or the fact that the trial is not likely to be concluded in the
near future either by itself or conjointly may not entitle the accused to be
enlarged on bail. Nevertheless, both these factors may also be taken into
consideration while deciding the question of grant of bail.
Having regard to the afore-mentioned circumstances, particularly the role
attributed to the appellant in the charge-sheet, we are of the view that it is
a fit case for grant of bail to the appellant.
Consequently, the appeal is allowed and the order passed by the High Court is
set aside. It is directed that the appellant shall be enlarged on bail on his
furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.5 lakhs with two sureties, each in
the like amount to the satisfaction of the Special Court, Pune. He shall also remain bound by all the conditions as
stipulated in Section 438(2) of the Code. The appellant shall also surrender
his passport, if any, before the Special Court, Pune.
goes without saying that aforenoted observations on the merits of the material
collected by the prosecution are tentative, only for the purpose of this
appeal, and shall not be taken as an expression of final opinion on the merits
of the case.