Vs. Pradeep Bhalchandra Sawant & Anr  Insc 830 (17 August 2007)
K.G. Balakrishnan & P.K. Balasubramanyan
out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No.6044 of 2004) P.K. BALASUBRAMANYAN,
This Appeal by Special Leave by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenges
the order of the High Court granting bail to the respondent, at the relevant
time, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mumbai. The respondent was arrested in
connection with criminal cases registered in what has come to be known as the
stamp scam. The respondent is arrayed as accused No. 65 in C.R. No.
135 of 2002 initially registered at Bund Garden Police Station, Pune for
different offences under the Indian Penal Code as well as under Sections 3 and
24 read with Section 2(1)(a)(d) of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime
Act (MCOCA) read with Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act. The charges against him, inter alia, comprised of charges 58 to
70. The charges included the charge that the respondent had conspired to
commit, to abet, to knowingly facilitate the commission of an organised crime,
namely, the printing and sale of fake stamp papers and thereby was guilty of
offences under the MCOCA, which carried a minimum punishment of imprisonment
for five years but which could extend to life. The respondent was arrested on
7.1.2004 and subsequently by the order under challenge, he was enlarged on
bail. It is this order granting bail that is the subject matter of this appeal
at the instance of the prosecution.
According to the learned counsel for the appellant C.B.I., as per the
supplementary charge sheet, the respondent was being charged with rendering
help and support on his own in the commission of an organised crime to the
members of a organised crime syndicate by abstaining from taking the necessary
action by himself and through his subordinate officers and that he had directed
his subordinates that Telgi, the prime accused should not be kept in any lock
up. This had facilitated the continuing of illegal activity by Telgi including
the disposal of his ill-gotten properties even while he was in police custody. Telgi
was also accorded special treatment by the respondent. According to learned
counsel, in the circumstances, the High Court was clearly in error in granting
bail to the respondent on its misconception of the scope of the relevant
provisions of MCOCA and on its erroneous approach that connivance or deliberate
inaction on the part of a police officer which facilitated the organised crime
to flourish would not amount to an offence under Section 3 of the MCOCA.
Learned counsel submitted that since a fundamental error had been made by the
High Court, it was a proper case for this Court to interfere with the order.
Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that the
alleged acts of commission and omission of the respondent did not attract
Section 3 of MCOCA and at best even if the case is brought under Section 24 of
MCOCA, the punishment could extend only to three years and on the materials
available, the High Court was justified in granting bail to the respondent.
counsel submitted that on the materials, there was no reason for this Court to
interfere with an order granting bail, a course that is not very readily
adopted by this Court.
find some merit in the submission of learned counsel for the appellant that the
approach of the High Court leaves a lot to be desired. There may be some
substance in his argument that the High Court has not properly understood the
content of Section 3(2) and 3(3) of MCOCA and it was in error in thinking that
deliberate inaction or studied negligence on the part of a responsible police
officer could not amount to abetting or knowingly facilitating the commission
of an organised crime. But, we do not think that it is proper for this Court to
go into that question in detail in this proceeding, which is only an appeal
against the grant of bail. After all, whatever we may say in this order will
not even control the decision to be taken after the conclusion of the trial and
we think it appropriate to leave it to the court trying the case to take a
final view on all the questions after the evidence has been let in. Learned
counsel for the respondent, in this connection, relied upon the decision in RanjitSing
Anr. [(2005) 5 S.C.C. 294] to support the argument that the High Court was not
wrong in proceeding on the basis that no offence under Section 3 of MCOCA would
be made out. On scrutiny of the decision, we find that it was only an order on
a bail application in the case of another police officer who was the
Commissioner of Police and as we have noted earlier, the observations therein
obviously may not be considered an authoritative pronouncement on the relevant
aspects at the trial of the cause or as concluding any question. The reasons
given in an order granting bail can only be understood as supporting an order
granting bail with only the consequences that flow from it. The observations
cannot control the decision to be taken after trial by the concerned court.
is true that counsel tried to highlight many alleged commissions and omissions
on the part of the respondent and especially in his alleged treatment of Telgi,
the kingpin in the crime concerned. Naturally, learned counsel for the
respondent attempted to controvert the stand adopted by the learned counsel for
the appellant and contended that there were no such acts of commission or
omission on the side of the respondent and that it was a case where the
respondent himself was only a subordinate officer not in a position to take
some of the actions which are alleged to have been not taken by him.
again, we do not think that it is proper for us to go into an analysis of the
facts and circumstances. Suffice it to say that we do not think that it is
necessary to interfere with the order granting bail to the respondent in this
appeal against such grant. We expect the trial court to try the case in
accordance with law untrammelled by the observations in these orders.
therefore decline to interfere and dismiss this appeal.