Gokul Bhagaji Patil Vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr  Insc
926 (8 December 2006)
Balakrishnan & D.K. Jain
out of S.L.P.(Criminal) No. 1572 of 2006) D.K. JAIN, J.:
This appeal by special leave is directed against the Order, dated 1.2.2006,
passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, affirming the order passed by
Special Judge, Pune, in exercise of powers conferred under the Maharashtra
Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (for short "MCOCA"), whereby the
application filed by the appellant for grant of bail was rejected.
appellant, a former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mumbai was posted as a
senior Police Inspector at Mira Road,
Police Station, Thane District, during the period from 2.6.1999 to 13.5.2000.
or about 15.8.1999, on the basis of some information about printing of fake
revenue and postal stamps by a gang, received by Mira Road Police Station,
under the charge of the appellant, raids were conducted at certain places. As a
result thereof some persons were arrested and case (C.R. No. 274 of 1999) under
Sections 257, 260, 420, 467, 468 read with 34 of Indian Penal Code and under
Section 55 of the Indian Postal Act, 1898 was registered against them.
appears that an inquiry was conducted by the Additional Superintendent of
Police, Thane (Rural) in the manner in which investigation in C.R. No. 274 of
1999 was conducted by the appellant and his team, which revealed that although
the printing press, situated at Mulund and Bora Bazar, Mumbai, where
counterfeit stamps and stamp papers were being printed had been identified but
the appellant and his Sub-Inspector Kakade (since dead), incharge of the case,
neither sealed the said premises nor seized the machines; they ensured that
Abdul Karim Ladsab Telgi (hereinafter referred to as "Telgi"), the
Kingpin of the Organised Crime Syndicate and the prime accused was not arrested
and remained at large till he was arrested by Karnataka Police and the
counterfeit stamps seized in the case were not sent for examination to the
Indian Security Press. In nutshell, the allegation against the appellant is
that being a public servant he not only rendered help and support in the
commission of Organised Crime as defined in clause (e) of Section 2 of MCOCA,
he knowingly and intentionally aided and abetted the activities of the Organised
Crime Syndicate till 7.6.2002, thereby enabling them to carry on their
activities for almost three years. Thus, by helping and facilitating the Organised
Crime Syndicate of Telgi in continuing unlawful activities and deliberately
abstaining from taking lawful measures under the MCOCA against Telgi and his
syndicate, he has committed offences punishable under Sections 3(2) and 24 of
Based on these investigations a case (C.R.No.135 of 2002) was registered
against the appellant and some other persons at Bund Garden Police Station, Pune.
The appellant, who by then had been promoted as Assistant Commissioner of
Police was arrested on 18.10.2003 by the Special Investigation Team,
constituted by the State of Maharashtra.
Since then he is in judicial custody.
Taking into consideration the gravity of charges levelled against the appellant
and, inter alia, observing that there is no reason to believe that the
appellant is not guilty of the offences, alleged against him, as contemplated
under Section 21(4)(b) of MCOCA, the Special Judge dismissed his bail
application. This order having been affirmed by the High Court, the appellant
is before us.
A.V. Savant, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant, has
strenuously urged that in the charge-sheet filed against the appellant there
are no allegations that he had indulged in "continuing unlawful
activities" within the meaning of Section 2(i)(d) of MCOCA and therefore
his case does not fall within the ambit of Section 3 of MCOCA. Learned senior
counsel submits that no inference can be drawn from the material on record that
the appellant was a party to the conspiracy or had abetted commission or
facilitation of the crime with which Telgi or other co-accused were associated
and contends that the circumstances relied upon against the appellant, namely,
the alleged failure either to arrest Telgi on 15.9.1999 or to seal the printing
press could, at the highest, bring his case within the ambit of Section 24 and
not under Section 3(2) of the MCOCA. It is, thus, urged that the appellant
having already been in judicial custody for more than three years, the maximum
punishment provided under Section 24, he is entitled to be enlarged on bail.
Learned counsel has also pointed out that some of the 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.
contra, Mr. Sushil Kumar, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents,
while opposing the prayer for bail by the appellant, has submitted that there
is sufficient material on record to bring home the charges against the
appellant of facilitating the continuation of unlawful activities by the Organised
Crime Syndicate. Learned counsel, thus, submits that in view of sub-section (4)
of Section 21 of MCOCA, the bail has been rightly refused to the appellant.
Since the provisions of MCOCA have been invoked in the present case, in
addition to the basic considerations, namely, the nature and seriousness of the
offence; the character of the evidence; reasonable apprehension of witness
being tampered with and reasonable possibility of the presence of the accused
not being secured at the trial etc; which normally weigh with the courts for
granting bail in non-bailable offences, the limitations imposed in sub-section
(4) of Section 21 of MCOCA need to be kept in view while deciding whether or
not the appellant is entitled to bail.
The nature and scope of sub-section (4) of Section 21 of MCOCA has been
considered and explained by us in Chenna Boyanna Krishna Yadav vs. State of Maharashtra
& Anr. (Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 1358 of 2006). Interpreting
the said provision, we have observed thus:
is plain from a bare reading of the non- obstante clause 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.
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.
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."
The factors which have weighed with the High Court for rejecting the
appellant's plea of innocence and his bail application are;
printing press and other machinery belonging to Telgi was not sealed;
regarding the counterfeit nature of the seized stamps was not obtained from
Indian Security Press, Nashik;
of granting permission to the police party which had searched the press to go
ahead with further investigations, the police party was recalled without effecting
though the police officials, including the appellant, were aware of the serious
lapses on their part, yet no attempt was made to correct them, with the result
that the prime accused Telgi continued his illegal activities between 29.8.1999
to June, 2002;
not arresting the prime accused Telgi, he allowed the Organised Crime Syndicate
to continue its activities and
he had wide powers to stop the unlawful activities, he did not use them conscienously
and in public interest and allowed the Organised Crime Syndicate to continue
their activities unhampered and unobstructed.
would not be appropriate at this juncture to go into detailed examination of
the alleged crime in order to arrive at a positive finding as to whether or not
the appellant has committed offences under Section 3(2) or 24 of MCOCA. What is
required to be considered is whether in the light of the circumstances,
is a reasonable ground to believe that the appellant is not guilty of the two
offences he has been charged with under MCOCA and
he is not likely to commit an offence under MCOCA while on bail.
have considered the matter in the light of the inferences drawn by the High
Court from the material on record and the role attributed to the appellant.
After hearing learned counsel for the parties, we are of the view that the
purported acts of omission and commission on the part of the appellant may not
per se bring his case within the ambit of Section 3(2) of MCOCA. Nevertheless,
the aforementioned circumstances do tend to indicate that as a public servant
he had failed to take lawful measures under MCOCA, attracting the provisions of
Section 24 of MCOCA. Having reached this conclusion and bearing in mind the
fact that the appellant has been in judicial custody for over three years, the
maximum period of sentence contemplated under Section 24 of MCOCA, we are of
the view the appellant deserves to be released on bail.
Accordingly, 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.2 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 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The
appellant shall also surrender his passport, if any, before the Special Court, Pune.
Any observation touching the merits of the case against the appellant is
tentative, only for the purpose of this appeal, and shall not be construed as
an expression of final opinion in the matter.