of Maharashtra & Ors Vs. Vashishtha Rambhau Andhale  Insc 835 (17 August 2007)
K.G. Balakrishnan & P.K. Balasubramanyan
out of SLP(Crl.) No.4394 of 2004) P.K. BALASUBRAMANYAN, J.
This appeal by the prosecution challenges the order granting bail to the
respondent, Inspector of Police attached to the Dharavi Crime Branch, Unit-5, Mumbai.
respondent was arrested during the investigation of the crime registered in the
Bund Garden Police Station, Pune relating to the organised crime that has come
to be known as the stamp scam. The respondent was accused No.55. He
was arrested on 18.10.2003 and though the Special court declined his prayer for
bail, in appeal, the High Court granted bail. It is that order of the High
Court that is challenged in this appeal.
Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the Central Bureau of
Investigation (for short the CBI) had taken over the investigation as directed
by this Court in March 2004, had conducted proper investigation and had
charge-sheeted various accused and a revised charge- sheet had been filed in
July 2004. It is submitted that this Court had entrusted the investigation to
the CBI on finding that the Special Investigating Team constituted for that purpose
by the State of Maharashtra was not investigating the crime having great social
dimensions, in a proper manner or with due sincerity. He submitted that the
investigation conducted by the CBI clearly indicated the involvement of the
respondent in lending a helping hand to Telgi to facilitate the commission of
an organised crime and the evidence, thus, far obtained by the CBI has not been
appreciated properly by the High Court keeping in mind the circumstances under
which the CBI came into the picture and started an investigation on its own.
submitted that the High Court made an erroneous approach to the materials
gathered by the CBI and has erred in discarding them on the basis that there
was some delay in recording the statements of the witnesses, at least nine of
whom had spoken of the involvement of the respondent and the confessional
statement of accused No.8 Sajid, who confessed that he had handed over Rs.15 lakhs
to the respondent by way of illegal gratification and as a quid pro quo for the
respondent releasing those connected with a stamp offence.
Learned counsel for the appellants particularly pointed out that the respondent
had failed to arrest Telgi when Telgi had appeared in the office of the Crime
Branch Dharavi, Unit-5, Mumbai. Similarly, the respondent had set free the
various persons taken into custody when huge quantity of fake stamps were
recovered in a raid and this was done by the respondent in the light of the
illegal gratification received by him from Sajid. The High Court erred
completely in not giving due weight to those witnesses who spoke of the failure
of the respondent to arrest Telgi even when he was wanted and when he appeared
at the Police Station and presented himself before the respondent and also the
confession of Sajid supported by other relevant materials that a sum of Rs.15 lakhs
had been paid to the respondent for inducing him to set free a number of
persons involved in the stamp scam, taken into custody while raiding a premises
in Andheri and recovering a huge cache of fake stamps.
Counsel submitted that the High Court has also not kept in mind the nature of
the offence, its impact on society, the position held by the respondent, his
duty as a protector of the law and the rights of the citizens and the nature of
his conduct. It was a clear case where the offences under Section 3, 4 and 24
of the Maharasthra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (for short the MCOCA)
had been made out. The High Court ought not to have interfered with the order
refusing to grant bail.
Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand submitted that the
respondent was not holding such a responsible post as to be able to assist Telgi
and his associates in the manner suggested by the prosecution and that the High
Court has not erred in granting bail to him. Counsel submitted that the
confession of Sajid had to be tested at the trial and the High Court was not
incorrect in not relying on it at this stage to refuse bail to the respondent.
Counsel also submitted that after all it was an order granting bail to an
accused, no doubt in a serious crime and that normally this Court in appeal
would not interfere with such an order. Counsel therefore, submitted that no
interference was warranted in this appeal.
find that there is some merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the
appellants that the High Court was not correct in thinking that all the
evidence gathered by the CBI must be treated as evidence gathered belatedly.
The High Court obviously forgot that the CBI was directed to take up the
investigation by this Court only in March 2004 and what this Court was
intending, was a thorough investigation by the CBI, especially in the nature of
unsatisfactory performance of the State Police and the number of police personnel
and higher ups allegedly involved in the organised crime. To that extent we
cannot approve the approach or attitude of the High Court in dealing with the
appeal against the refusal to grant bail to the respondent. Same would be the
position regarding the confessional statement of Sajid and the High Court was
not correct in trying to discard it on the basis that it was belated.
studied inaction or aid extended to the members of an organised crime, the
members of an organised gang involved in such crime might also amount to an
offence under MCOCA and this fact cannot be forgotten when dealing with the
case of a police officer allegedly involved in the crime. But then that is a
matter to be decided by the trial court at the time of trial of the offence.
For the present we need only indicate that we cannot fully endorse the approach
made by the High Court in granting bail to the respondent.
the same time, we do not think it proper in this appeal to go into the various
aspects urged at great length by counsel appearing in the case. We think that
the matters must be left to the trial court for decision after taking proper
evidence and it would be premature to pronounce on the various aspects urged
we are not in a position either to fully endorse or to fully approve the views
expressed by the High Court in the order under challenge, we do not think that
it is necessary, at this stage, to interfere with that order and set aside the
bail granted to the respondent. We, therefore, decline to interfere with the
decision of the High Court though we do find merit in some of the aspects urged
by the counsel for the appellant.
view of what is stated above, the appeal is dismissed leaving all the questions
open to be decided by the trial court.