Ravinder Singh Bhasin Vs-cbi: “Cash-at-door; Rs-15-lakh to Justice Nirmal Yadav”: P&H Judgment-September-18-2008

“80. A judicial scandal has always been regarded as far more deplorable than a scandal involving either the executive or a member of the legislature. The slightest hint of irregularity or impropriety in the court is a cause for great anxiety and alarm. A legislature or an administrator may be found guilty of corruption without apparently endangering the foundation of the State. But a Judge must keep himself absolutely above suspicion, to preserve the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and to have the public confidence thereof.” All the types of people have place in every walk of life in this humanitarian society. Corruption, in any shape, has become just customary or a common phenomenon, but still high expectations are made from Judicial Wheel of the Government, so as to maintain integrity and uplift the dignity of the Nation. Despite unhealthy criticism, the rich or poor, howsoever high or low they may be, their eyes remain fixed to get justice at the hands of the custodians of justice. Barring few exceptions, it would not be Criminal Misc.No.M-22955 of 2008 [15] unreasonable to say that the Indian Judicial System is proving to the expectations of the public, still subject to the healthy comments of the commentators and critics. However, mutual respect, faith and confidence are the keys of survival of the System and healthy society. In the light of the above discussion, I am of the considered view that the petitioner does not deserve the concession of pre-arrest bail and his petition is accordingly dismissed.

 ……………………. Full Judgment  ……….. Below ……

01 Ravinder Singh Bhasin … Petitioner  Vs  CBI [Cash-At-Door-Rs. 15 Lakh-To Justice Nirmal Yadav

Punjab-Haryana High Court

Indian Kanoon – http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1867852/

Punjab-Haryana High Court

Ravinder Singh Bhasin vs Cbi, New Delhi

Criminal Misc.No.M-22955 of 2008 [1 ] IN THE HIGH COURT FOR THE STATES OF PUNJAB &

HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

Criminal Miscellaneous No.41885 of 2008

Criminal Miscellaneous No.M-22955 of 2008 (O&M)

Decided on : September 18, 2008

Ravinder Singh Bhasin … Petitioner

VERSUS

CBI, New Delhi … Respondent

CORAM :

HON’BLE MR.JUSTICE A.N.JINDAL

Present: Mr.H.S.Bhullar, Advocate assisted by

Mr.A.S.Chahal, Mr.Y.S.Dhillon and

Ms.Ekta Thakur, Advocates for the accused – petitioner. Mr.Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Senior Advocate – Special Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation assisted by Mr.M.S.Cheema, Advocate.

Mr.Anupam Gupta, Advocate for the applicant –

Pb. & Hr. High Court Bar Association.

A.N.JINDAL, J.-

The corruption is one of the most talked-about subject today in the country. The tentacles of corruption are spreading fast corroding the moral fiber and consequently, in most cases, the economic structure of the country. It has assumed alarming proportions in recent times. Eye-brows  are raised over the people working at the helm of affairs by the general public and though, they may themselves be responsible for the same. The position of the bribe giver is worse than its receiver for the reason that an indulgence shown by him, towards which the bribe receivers are attracted, vanishes all the rules, discipline and policy and thereby, carving a short-cut way to achieve the object, It is often said that corruption as such has reached dangerous heights and potentialities as to embrace almost all the spheres of our day-to-day life the world over.

A lot of hue and cry has been raised by the newspapers and the electronic media regarding sending of a packet containing fifteen lacs of rupees at the residence of Hon’ble Ms.Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, regarding which the latter informed the police on 13.8.2008. Amrik Singh, working as Camp-office peon at the residence of the Hon’ble Judge gave information to the effect that one Parkash Ram, working as Clerk with Sanjeev Bansal, Advocate came with a bag containing
02
Rs.15 lac saying that the same had been sent by Sanjeev Bansal and Ravinder Singh. On this information, Parkash Ram was taken to Police Station Sector-11, Chandigarh along with the bag containing the money. A Daily Diary Report No.49 was recorded on the same day, in this regard. The documents further reveal that after coming to know about the arrest of his clerk Parkash Ram, Sanjeev Bansal went to the Police Station and got recorded his statement that the said money was handed over to him by his friend Ravinder Singh for delivering the same at the house of one Nirmal Singh, who was to meet his person at  House No.162, Sector-18, Chandigarh (residence of Pankaj Bhardwaj, Advocate) between 8.00 p.m, to 8.30 p.m. Since he was late while returning from Delhi, therefore, he had directed his wife to get the amount delivered, at the aforesaid place. However, his clerk Parkash Ram instead of taking the money at the aforesaid address, mistakenly took the same to the house of the Hon’ble Judge. To verify the aforesaid submission made by Sanjeev Bansal, Sub-Inspector Joginder Singh visited the residence of the Hon’ble Judge again, where, Amrik Singh – informant submitted a written application divulging the details of the incident. DDR No.68 dated 14.8.2008 was made in the police station to the same effect. On 14.8.2008 itself, Nirmal Singh and Rajiv Gupta delivered an agreement to sell purported to have been executed between Rajiv Gupta and Ravinder Singh, copy of general power of attorney in the name of Rajiv Gupta and a copy of re-allotment letter of plot No.701, Sector-16, Panchkula in the name of Anand Kumar, in order to show that Ravinder Singh had to purchase the said plot from Anand Kumar through Nirmal Singh and the money was meant for that purpose. However, later on, the aforesaid documents were found to be forged and the story was found to be false. Ultimately, after holding preliminary enquiry, in the first instance, First Information Report under Sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code was registered against Parkash Ram, Sanjeev Bansal, Ravinder Singh and others. Later on, Pankaj Bhardwaj while denying his relations with Nirmal Singh  or his proposed visit to his house on the relevant date, admitted his acquaintance with Sanjeev Bansal. However, he denied if Sanjeev Bansal ever instructed him to enter into any money transaction with anybody and particularly with Nirmal Singh. He further admitted that Sanjeev Bansal had called him at 9.00 p.m, and told him that Nirmal Singh would come to his house, but no person in the name of Nirmal Singh came to his house. Here it needs mention that Sanjeev Bansal is a practicing lawyer; Jai Parkash Rana and Parkash Ram are his clerks, while Rajiv Gupta, Nirmal Singh and the petitioner are friends of Sanjeev Bansal. During investigation, Jai Parkash Rana was also grilled, who disclosed that on 13.8.2008, he had received a message from Mrs.Sanjeev Bansal that a packet containing money sent by the petitioner is to be delivered at the residence of Hon’ble Mrs.Justice Nirmal Yadav, but mistakenly, that was sent to the house of Hon’ble Ms.Justice Nirmaljit Kaur. After the arrest of Sanjeev Bansal, he made the following statement:-

“That on 13.8.2008, at about 6.00/6.30 a.m, I had started for New Delhi as I had a case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Court No.2. I had reached Narela at about 10-10.30 a.m, when I received a phone call from Mr.Ravinder Singh of Karol Bagh Delhi, who is my friend and known to me for the last nearly 7-8 years and he told me to meet him after I am free from Supreme Court. I told him that I would come to him after being free  from the Hon’ble Supreme Court. I reached Supreme Court at about 12.00 to 12.30 p.m, and was free from there around 1.00 p.m. I went to Ravinder Singh at his hotel at Karol Bagh and we had lunch together. When I was to leave at about 2.10 p.m, approximately, I was handed over a packet containing 15 lacs (fifteen lacs only) by Ravinder and I was told to deliver it at Hon’ble Mrs.Justice Yadav’s house upon reaching Chandigarh. From his hotel, I went to Le-meridian, where I had a meeting with some of my clients. I started from Delhi at about 5.15 p.m, and then switched off my mobile to have rest. When I switched on my mobile at about 6.10 p.m, to 6.40 p.m, I received a photo call from my wife who told me that Ravinder Singh had called her on her mobile and told her to have a message for me to contact him. I contacted him and he told me that Justice Yadav had asked him to send the money by 8.30 p.m, I told him that it would not be possible for me to reach Chandigarh by that time. However, he requested me to arrange it locally and to send the same. I told my wife to hand over Rs.15 lacs (fifteen lacs only) to Parkash, my Munshi in a packet and to tell him to deliver it at Hon’ Mrs. Justice Nirmal Yadav’s house. Thereafter, I received a photo call from Parkash, my Munshi at around 8.30 p.m, to 8.50 p.m, and he told me that he was being handed over to the police by Hon’ Ms.Justice Nirmaljit Kaur. Criminal Misc.No.M-22955 of 2008 [6 ] Upon my asking, he told me that he had mistaken the identity as the amount was to be delivered at Hon’ Mrs.Justice Nirmal Yadav’s house. I immediately called Justice Nirmaljit Kaur on her mobile and requested her that my Munshi had reached her house by mistake. She, however, told me that police would verify the facts and then take appropriate action. After about 20-25 minutes, I received a phone call from landline number and the person speaking on the call disclosed his identity as Hon’ Mr.Justice M.S.Gill. He asked me about the incident and asked me the person to whom the money was to go. I told him that money was to be delivered to Mr.Nirmal Singh in Sector- 18, Chandigarh and had been wrongly delivered at a wrong address. He asked me to go to Sector-11 Police Station and claim the money. I came to Police Station, Sector-11, Chandigarh and after being explained everything left at about 12.15/12.30 a.m. On 14.8.2008, I again received a call from Hon’ Mr.Justice M.S.Gill and he asked me about the proceedings which took place in Sector-11 on 13.8.2008. I explained to him the entire episode. Then in between 8.30 to 9.30 a.m, on 14.8.2008, I again received a call from Ravinder and he told me that he had received a call from Hon’ Mrs.Justice Nirmal Yadav requiring him to deliver the amount of Rs.15 lacs at her residence and he requested me to send  somebody. I requested my friend Rajiv Gupta to deliver the amount and he went to the residence of Hon’ Mrs.Justice Yadav at Sector-24, Chandigarh during this period. Then, he told me later that the gunman had the message and asked Rajiv whether packet has been sent by Ravinder from Delhi. Rajiv said `yes’. Then, only lady came from inside the house and was handed over the packet by Rajiv. Even earlier, I have been requested by Ravinder Singh to deliver fruits, sweets, cake at the residence of Hon’ Mrs.Justice Yadav 2-3 times and also some amount of currency approximately Rs.5-6 lacs (five-six) sent by him from Delhi.”

Nirmal Singh, in his statement also explained the circumstances in which Rajiv Gupta prevailed upon to forge the documents, so that the money could be projected for delivery to him in connection with a plot, sold by him to the petitioner. Rajiv Gupta was also arrested on 21.8.2008. After induction of Nirmal Singh and Rajiv Gupta as accused, the investigating agency added the offences under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 IPC.

Submissions of the learned counsel have been considered and the records perused.

While seeking indulgence of this court to extend him the concession of provisions of Section 438 CrPC, it was vehemently urged  that the petitioner is a respectable income-tax payee businessman dealing in import and export, real estate, having houses and a hotel at Delhi and that he has nothing to do with criminal activities. He is being pushed into the matter without any basis. The allegations which could be culled out from the facts emanating from the aforesaid statements, do not form an offence under Sections 8 and 9 of the Act. Assuming for the sake of arguments, the money was sent by the petitioner, even then the same could be said to be in connection with his share regarding purchase of the land situated in Himachal Pardesh. The facts and circumstances, if read conjunctively, do not indicate that the said amount was related to any gratification or influencing any Hon’ble Judge or any other public servant. Raising a finger of bias on the part of the Investigating Officer to nab him in the case to gain public importance, he has urged that since the evidence, whatever could be collected by the prosecution, has already been collected and the custodial interrogation of the petitioner is not required, therefore, he could protect his valuable rights of liberty by invocation of these provisions. Controverting the arguments, Mr.Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Special Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation as also Mr.Anupam Gupta, Advocate have demonstrated and shown their keen desire about the custodial interrogation of the petitioner in order to examine all the pros and cons of the case and in the interest of the fair investigation, so that the independent agency like CBI could reach some logical end. The Special Prosecutor for CBI by his discourse has intended to persuade this court that  from the different statements got recorded in series on different dates, unless the petitioner is interrogated, do not lead anyone to a logical conclusion. The most wanted and required person in the present case is the petitioner on whose interrogation, the fate of the case depends. His further contention is that during investigation, the dust over the names of two Hon’ble Judges has been thrown by Sanjeev Bansal by having the shield of the petitioner. Thus, in order to remove the curtains of doubts and to reach the truth, it is only the petitioner who could enable the investigating agency to indict the real culprits. Thus, while harping for the custodial interrogation of the petitioner, Mr.Sidhu prays for not extending the concession of these extraordinary provisions in the present case. The provisions of Section 438 CrPC were not on the statute book earlier, but have been inserted on the recommendation of the 41st Law Commission in the year 1973, just to safeguard liberty of an individual against the unnecessary harassment, superfluous litigation and his unnecessary dragging in the realm of crime. Just as liberty is precious for an individual, so is the interest of the society in maintaining law and order. Both are extremely important for survival of the civilized society. We should also not be unaware and loose sight of the deteriorating law and order situation, increasing number of armed gangs and criminals, many hardcore criminals, smugglers, who have organised gangs and have shaken the strong roots of the society. Thus, if the fundamental right of liberty is liberalised, then it may lead to the difficulties in the detection of crimes  committed by such categories of hardcore criminals by soft-padding interrogation. Thus, laying too much emphasis to protect their liberty and human rights, such criminals may go scot free without exposing an element or iota of criminality. Resultantly, the crime may go unpunished, for which ultimately the society is to suffer. 
To deal with such a situation and also to meet with the expectation of the society that the criminals would be dealt with, in an efficient and effective manner, the interrogation of the accused by various methods, not affecting the human rights, could not be given good-bye and the proposed handle of anticipatory bail, cannot be given in their hands by invocation of provisions of Section 438 CrPC. While evaluating the power of investigating agency of custodial interrogation, the Apex court in case CBI vs. Anil Sharma, (1997) 7 SCC 187 observed as under:-

“Custodial interrogation is qualitatively more elicitation – oriented than questioning a subject who is well ensconced with a favourable order under Section 438 of the Code. In a case like this, effective interrogation of a suspected person is of tremendous advantage in disinterring many useful informations and also materials which would have been concealed. Success in such interrogation would elude if the suspected person know that he is well protected and insulated by a pre-arrest bail order during the time he is interrogated. Very often interrogation in such a condition would reduce to a mere ritual. The argument that the custodial interrogation is fraught with the danger of the person being subjected to third-degree methods need not be countenanced, for, such an argument can be advanced by all accused in all criminal cases. The Court has to presume that responsible police officers would conduct themselves in a responsible manner and that those entrusted with the task of disinterring offences would not conduct themselves as offenders………………..

The High Court has approached the issue as though it was considering a prayer for granting regular bail after arrest. The consideration which should weigh with the Court while dealing with a request for anticipatory bail need not be the same as for an application to release on bail after arrest. At any rate, the High Court ought not to have side-stepped the apprehension expressed by the CBI that the respondent would influence the witnesses. The apprehension was quite reasonable when considering the high position which the respondent held and in the nature of accusation relating to a period during which he held such office.”

No doubt, the concession of anticipatory bail could be granted in some extraordinary circumstances, the question which requires determination is as to whether the petitioner has been able to make out a case for getting benefit of the provisions. Undoubtedly, while considering such a prayer, the court would take into consideration the following essentials:-

(i)Nature and gravity of the accusations;

(ii)Antecedents of the applicant;

(iii)The possibility of his fleeing from justice, and (iv)Whether the accusation has been made with an intent to injure or humiliate him

The court’s endeavour would be to maintain valuable right of the individual on the one hand and the interest of the society at large at the other hand. When once, the case is registered, the aim of the investigating agency is to examine all the nooks and crannies, and elucidate the truth, and indict the real culprits, avoiding false implication. Thus, the argument that interrogation is fraught with the danger of the person being subjected to third-degree methods need not be countenanced, for, such an argument can be advanced by all accused of all categories of crime. On close scrutiny of the steps taken by the investigating agency so far, it transpires that Sanjeev 06
Bansal as well as the petitioner are influential persons and affluent with money. They were dealing with the money just like toys. There is definite admission made by Sanjeev Bansal that he sent the money, but he has changed his statement thrice, which indicates his unfairness, but still, amongst others, one thing has come to the  surface from his divergent statements that the money was handed over by the petitioner for onward transmission to either of the three persons named above, but his such statement raises hundreds of questions to be answered by the petitioner. Both; the Members of legal profession and the higher judiciary being directly involved in the case and the very integrity of legal and judicial system being directly at stake, therefore, in order to save the prestige of both the systems and prevent them from corrupting and also to prevent any subversion or suppression of truth or any miscarriage of justice in the investigation, the custodial interrogation has become essential. It may further be observed that petitioner’s plea that the money was meant for purchase of the land in Himachal Pardesh stands contradicted from the sale transaction, wherein, his address was not shown to be that of Delhi, where he is said to be residing. The price of the land, the intention and motive for sending the amount at the residence of an Hon’ble Judge are still to be inquired into. Had the petitioner been fair in his conduct, then he would have come out from his hide-outs when his human rights were protected vide order dated 5.9.2008. This conduct on his part makes serious revelation that he being not above board in his conduct, is suppressing the material facts, not cooperating and fleeing from justice. I also cannot eschew aside observing that the act of the police agency or the CBI was not motivated as to accuse him with a sheer motive of humiliating and maligning his reputation. Keeping in view the fact that the petitioner has thrown dust over the judicial sodality, it could be expected from him to surrender before the investigating agency and unfold the truth. While comparing the element of impropriety in the judicial system with that in the other two organs of Government, the Apex Court in case K.Veeraswami vs. Union of India and others, (1991) 3 SCC 655, observed as under:-

“80. A judicial scandal has always been regarded as far more deplorable than a scandal involving either the executive or a member of the legislature. The slightest hint of irregularity or impropriety in the court is a cause for great anxiety and alarm. A legislature or an administrator may be found guilty of corruption without apparently endangering the foundation of the State. But a Judge must keep himself absolutely above suspicion, to preserve the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and to have the public confidence thereof.” All the types of people have place in every walk of life in this humanitarian society. Corruption, in any shape, has become just customary or a common phenomenon, but still high expectations are made from Judicial Wheel of the Government, so as to maintain integrity and uplift the dignity of the Nation. Despite unhealthy criticism, the rich or poor, howsoever high or low they may be, their eyes remain fixed to get justice at the hands of the custodians of justice. Barring few exceptions, it would not be  unreasonable to say that the Indian Judicial System is proving to the expectations of the public, still subject to the healthy comments of the commentators and critics. However, mutual respect, faith and confidence are the keys of survival of the System and healthy society. In the light of the above discussion, I am of the considered view that the petitioner does not deserve the concession of pre-arrest bail and his petition is accordingly dismissed.

CRM No.41885 of 2008 :

Since this Court while being conscious about the preservation of the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and to have the public confidence therein, has permitted Mr.Anupam Gupta and consequent thereupon, he has also assisted the court and the main case having been disposed of, therefore, the instant application for impleading the Bar Association as intervener in the matter, has been rendered infructuous and the same is dismissed as such.

( A.N.JINDAL )

JUDGE

September 18, 2008

`gian’

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