IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
SUBJECT : SECTIONS 201/120-B IPC
BAIL APPLN 556/2006
FIR No. 152/2005
U/s 419/420/468/471/120-B IPC & 20/21/26 IPC
P.S. Special Cell, Lodhi Colony
Judgment delivered on:18.04.2006
ANURAG SINGH ...Petitioner
- versus -
THE STATE (Through NCT of Delhi) ...Respondent
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Petitioner : Mr D.C. Mathur, Sr Advocate with Mr Mr Ramesh Gupta,
Ms Rebcca M. John, Mr Bharat Sharma and Mr Arun Singh
For the Respondent/State : Mr Pawan Sharma
BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J (ORAL)
1. On 27.03.2006, when this matter was taken up for hearing, my learned predecessor had indicated in the order the broad arguments advanced by the counsel for the parties. It was noted that the counsel for the petitioner had argued that the charge-sheet against the petitioner was only filed under Sections 201/120-B IPC which is bailable and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 which is punishable with imprisonment upto three years or fine or both. It was also noted that the counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the investigation had been completed and a challan had been filed and from the material collected and during investigation, no offence against the petitioner is said to have been made out much less any non-bailable offence. It was, accordingly, contended by the learned counsel that the petitioner was entitled to be released on bail. It was, however, contended to the contrary by the learned APP for the State who submitted that the petitioner, had purchased the Nokia mobile phone on which the conversation was recorded. It was also submitted by the learned counsel for the State that on 20.10.2005, the petitioner with the help of the co-accused procured a forged letter of DCP (Crimes) for the purposes of tapping the phone of Shri Amar Singh which was a phone of Reliance Telecom. However, the court on 27.03.2006 felt that in order to appreciate the rival contentions of the parties, it would be appropriate to call for the trial court record which had been summoned. The trial court record is available.
2. Mr Dinesh Mathur, the learned counsel for the petitioner referred to the charge-sheet as well as the status report dated 28.03.2006 filed on behalf of the State by Mr Badrish Dutt, Inspector, NDROC, who is the Investigating Officer in this case. Mr Mathur first referred to the last paragraph of the charge-sheet which reads as under:-
“From the investigation conducted so far and from the statements of witnesses there is sufficient evidence against the accused persons Bhupender Singh, Kuldip Singh and Vijay Kumar mentioned in column no.3 to prosecute them u/s 419/420/468/471/201/120B, IPC & 20/21/25/26 Indian Telegraph Act and to prosecute accused Anurag Singh u/s 201/120-B IPC & 25 Indian Telegraph Act. Therefore, the charge sheet against the accused persons mentioned in column no.3 has been prepared and the same is being filed in the court for verdict. A few exhibits are to be sent to Forensic Laboratory and reports are yet to be obtained, a supplementary charge sheet will be filed in the court u/s 173 (8) CrPC. All the accused persons are in judicial custody.”
Reading the aforesaid paragraph, Mr Mathur pointed out that the case against the present petitioner (Anurag Singh) even as per the prosecution, as revealed by the charge-sheet, is one under Section 201/120-B IPC and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The other co-accused have been accused of having committed the offences under the other sections, namely, Sections 419/420/468/471/201/120-B/467 IPC and Sections 20/21/25/26 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. It was pointed out by Mr Mathur that the only allegations as appearing in the charge-sheet against the present petitioner are that the petitioner was approached by the co-accused (Bhupender Singh) to arrange for a mobile handset. It is indicated in the charge-sheet that the co-accused (Bhupender Singh) told the present petitioner (Anurag Singh) that such a mobile handset was required for somebody. Mr Mathur pointed out that even as per the case of the prosecution as revealed in the charge-sheet, it is the accused (Bhupender Singh) who is said to have recorded and intercepted the calls in respect of the Reliance number 011-39565414. These were intercepted by the said Bhupender Singh allegedly on the mobile number 9811358986, which, according to the prosecution, was the new SIM card which was inserted into the Nokia 6600 mobile set which had been purchased by Anurag Singh and handed over to the co-accused (Bhupender Singh). It is further pointed out by Mr Mathur that apart from the allegation that the present petitioner had purchased the mobile handset and handed the same over to Bhupender Singh, there is no allegation against the present petitioner with regard to the actual act of hearing and intercepting the calls and / or recording the same in respect of the Reliance No.011-39565414. It is, however, alleged in the charge-sheet that after the co-accused (Bhupender Singh) had recorded the conversation, he also prepared the CDs of the recorded calls and it is thereafter that he tried to sell the recorded conversation through the present petitioner (Anurag Singh). Thereafter, there are allegations that the present petitioner tried to sell the said conversation, but did not succeed and that he then met Shri Amar Singh through one Mr Ashok Chaturvedi. In the light of these allegations, Mr Mathur pointed out that, prima facie, no case as under Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 been made out against the petitioner. Insofar as the offence under Section 201/120-B IPC are concerned, the same are, in any event, bailable. He also contended that even if it is assumed that there is a prima facie case against the petitioner under Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the punishment provided for the said offence is imprisonment for a term which may extend upto three years or, in the alternative, it may be punishable with fine or with both. It is also the case of Mr Mathur that while considering the question of grant of bail, the court must examine as to whether the petitioner applying for bail has roots in society, is not likely to jump bail, is not likely to commit and / or repeat the offence alleged against him as also the nature of the offence. Mr Mathur, in this context, pointed out that the petitioner is the proprietor of a Detective Agency [V-Detect] and has been running this agency for about 6-7 years. He further submits that he is an income-tax assessee for the last 12 years and is also a qualified doctor having an MBBS degree. His wife is a Lecturer in Ramjas College, University of Delhi, his mother is also presently serving as Collector (Customs) and the father of the petitioner is a retired Director General (Customs). Therefore, the petitioner is a respectable person and has roots in the society and there is no likelihood of his not being available to the court and / or of his jumping bail.
3. On the other hand, this application for bail was vehemently opposed by Mr Pawan Sharma who appeared for the State. He stated that although the charge-sheet only makes out a case under Sections 201/120-B IPC and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the petitioner is, in point of fact, involved in the larger conspiracy. It is his contention that there are three other accused in this case, namely, Bhupender Singh, Kuldip Singh and one Mr Vijay. According to Mr Sharma, Bhupender Singh is the person who is said to have actually conducted the tapping and recording of the conversation insofar as the phone number 011-39565414 is concerned. The co-accused (Kuldip Singh) is said to have procured the authorisation letters dated 09.10.2005 and 22.10.2005 which purport to have been issued by the Joint CP (Crimes) and by the Home Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi respectively. He submits that it is on the basis of these letters that Reliance Telecom permitted the tapping of the said landline being 011-39565414. These documents were allegedly forged and fabricated by the co-accused Vijay. Mr Sharma pointed out that although the apparent role of the petitioner (Anurag Singh) is to the extent of procuring the mobile phone and attempting to sell the tapped conversation, he was also part of the larger conspiracy and, therefore, there is every likelihood that a charge may be framed under other sections also insofar as the present petitioner is concerned. He further submitted that framing of the charge is yet to be done and it cannot be said with certainty that the court would actually accept the case as made out in the charge-sheet. It may add charges or it may drop the charges. It was his contention that the petitioner should wait till the charges are framed and in case the petitioner is only charged for bailable offences, then he would automatically get bail. He also submitted that the offence that is said to have been committed by the petitioner is a grave one inasmuch as it interferes with the privacy of individuals. He further submitted that there is likelihood that the petitioner could tamper with the evidence and, therefore, taking all these circumstances into consideration, this court ought not to grant bail to the petitioner.
4. Considering the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the parties and looking at the facts and circumstances of the case, I note that the petitioner has been in custody since 05.01.2006, the investigations have been concluded, the challan has been filed, as such he is not any more required for interrogation and, therefore, one of the factors for detaining the petitioner, being the necessity of custodial interrogation does not subsist any more. As regards the case made out by the prosecution in terms of the charge-sheet as well as the status report referred to above, it is apparent that the petitioner has been sought to be involved in the commission of the offences under Sections 201/120-B IPC and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. What the court framing the charges might or might not do is not an issue which, does not arise in the present application. Going by the circumstances as they exist today, it is apparent that the petitioner is being prosecuted by the prosecuting agency for having allegedly committed the offences under Sections 201/120-B IPC and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The said offences under the IPC are bailable and that leaves for consideration the offence under Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. Insofar as Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act is concerned, it is clear, as mentioned above, that it is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both. In other words, there is a possibility that even after conviction, a person may be sentenced with fine alone which may not involve any period of imprisonment. It was, in this context, suggested by Mr Mathur that in such offences, the case for grant of bail is clearly made out provided the other conditions for grant of bail, such as the accused having roots in society and there being no likelihood of tampering with evidence, etc., are satisfied.
5. It is, however, Mr Mathur's case that the ingredients of Section 25 itself are not made out on the facts as set out in the case for the prosecution itself. This, however, is a debatable issue which can be gone into in case the charges are framed and the trial is proceeded with. The fact remains that the petitioner has been in custody since 05.01.2006, i.e., for over three months, investigation has been completed and from the facts as narrated above, it does not appear to me that the petitioner is likely to tamper with evidence or is likely to jump bail.
6. Under these circumstances, I feel that the petitioner is entitled to the grant of bail. Accordingly, I direct that he be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.1 lakh with one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of the concerned trial court. Of course, the petitioner shall report to the officer concerned at PS, Special Cell, Lodhi Colony at 11.00 a.m. on the first Monday of every month till further orders with the further condition that he shall not go abroad without informing the concerned authorities. It is also made clear that all observations made in this order are only prima facie in nature and shall not affect the trial court either at the time of framing of charges or in the trial itself, if any. The trial court record be sent back immediately.
This application stands disposed of.
BADAR DURREZ AHMED