Manoj Ramesh Mehta Vs.
State of Maharashtra  INSC 2011 (25 November 2008)
JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1868 of 2008 [arising out of SLP(Crl.) No.5451
of 2007] Manoj Ramesh Mehta ........ Appellant State of Maharashtra .......
R.V. RAVEENDRAN, J.
granted. Heard parties.
appellant is Accused No.42 in Special Case No.2/2003, on the file of Special
Judge, MCOCA, Pune, arising from CR No.135/2002, Bund Garden Police Station,
Pune. He challenges the order dated 23.1.2007 passed by the High Court of
Bombay in Criminal Application No.1795 of 2006, rejecting his application for
appellant was arrested on 11.6.2003 in connection with an FIR relating to
counterfeiting stamps/stamp papers (Telgi case) for offences 2 under sections
120(B), 255, 34, 109 of IPC read with sections 3(1)(ii), 3(2), 3(5) and section
4 of Maharashtra Control of Organized Crimes Act, 1999 [`MCOC Act' for short].
The appellant alleges that an FIR was registered on 7.6.2002 and a charge-sheet
was filed on 3.9.2002; that the charges framed were set aside by the High Court
with a direction to frame fresh charges;
that a fresh
charge-sheet was filed on 15.9.2003; that the prosecution has cited eight
hundred witnesses; that among the 68 accused, two have died, one has absconded,
four have been discharged, 43 have been convicted on admission of guilt under
section 229 Cr.P.C and the remaining 18 are facing trial; and that there is no
likelihood of an early completion of trial.
appellant sought bail. He submitted that role attributed to him was limited to
alleged helping and assisting of Abdul Karim L.Telgi in his legitimate business
carried on under the name and style of `Metro Corporation' by booking
consignments which were imported through State Trading Corporation; and that he
was not a member of any organized crime syndicate nor was in any way involved
in the fake stamp scam of A.K.L. Telgi. The appellant contends that even if the
prosecution case was accepted in entirety, it will not be sufficient to infer
any abetment or facilitation with knowledge; that the case against him is not
one of direct involvement but 3 only a peripheral involvement for which the
maximum punishment would be three years; and that he has spent a far longer
period in jail, having been arrested in June, 2003. He therefore contends that
the High Court ought to have released him on bail. He referred to the
statements of various witnesses viz., Rasna Bhomi, Ankleshsria, Suarna, N.M.
Nagrani, and R.M. Bhojawar, to support his contention that what was attributed
to him was nothing more than a good business relationship and legitimate
financial transactions with A.K.L. Telgi and there was nothing to infer that he
committed an offence of organized crime or to show that he was a member of the
organized crime syndicate of A.K.L.Telgi or that he abetted or knowingly
facilitated the commission of an organized crime. He also submitted that there
is no likelihood of the trial being completed in the near future and he has
been in jail for a period more than the period for which he could be sentenced
for his alleged involvement.
the other hand, learned counsel for CBI pointed out that the association of
appellant with A.K.L. Telgi was not merely with the legitimate business front
of A.K.L.Telgi; that the material showed that he was an active participant in
managing the affairs of Telgi in relation to his organized crime syndicate, in
particular the court litigation; that when a FIR 4 was filed on 7.6.2002, the
appellant secured cash from A.K.L. Telgi's operators and tried to get the case
closed; and that the material collected clearly showed his part in the
conspiracy relating to money-laundering and interference with the course of
justice, as part of working of an organized crime syndicate; and that he had
abetted or knowingly facilitated the commission of any organized crime.
examined the material, it is not possible for us to accept the claim that the
involvement of appellant was only peripheral. The High Court on examination of
the material was satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out under
section 3(2) of MCOC Act. The material prima facie shows that though he was not
directly connected with the printing and selling of the fake stamps, he was associated
with A.K.L.Telgi and had abetted and facilitated the commission of the
organized crime, and he had also aided and assisted in the money-laundering
operations and attempted to interfere with the witnesses on behalf of A.K.L.
Telgi and his family members. There is also prima facie material to show that
the payment for the purchase of printing machine for Telgi's illegitimate
activities, was routed through the appellant. Under section 3(2) of MCOC Act,
the minimum sentence is five years and the maximum can be imprisonment for 5
life. In the circumstances, we feel that this is not a fit case for
interference with the order of the High Court, particularly, having regard to
the provisions of section 21(4) of MCOC Act.
High Court has considered the matter in detail and has rightly concluded that
this is not a fit case for granting bail. Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.
[K. G. Balakrishnan]
[R. V. Raveendran]