Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2012) 1 Supreme Court Cases 40

Its an appeal directed towards the common judgment and order of the learned single judge of the High Court of Delhi in which the court refused to grant bail to the appellants of the case. The appellants in the instant case are accused persons of the crime popularly known as the 2G spectrum scam. Their individual petitions were argued together and were submitted for decision as one case. The appellants in the case are

Sanjay Chandra- He is the Accused no. 7 in the original case. The allegations accused against him are that he entered into criminal conspiracy with accused A. Raja, who was the minister of telecommunications and also Sri. R.K chandolia and other accused persons in the case to get UAS license for an otherwise ineligible company.

Vinod Goenka- He is the Accused no. 5 in the original case. The allegations accused against him are that he was one of the directors of M/s Swan Telecom (P) Ltd along with accused Shahid Usman Balwa and acquired majority stake in the STPL. Mr. Goenka carried forward the fraudulent applications of STPL in order to secure the license.

Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair- They are accused 9,10 and 11 of the case. It is alleged that they, in furtherance of their common intention to cheat the department of Telecommunications, created net worth of M/s Swan Telecom (P) Ltd out of the funds arranged from M/s Reliance Telecom Ltd or its associates in order to apply to the Department of Telecommunications for UAS license.

The special judge, New Delhi rejected Bail applications filed by the appellants by his order dated 20.04.2011. The appellants moved to the High Court by filing applications under S. 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The same was rejected by the single judge on 23.05.2011. Aggrieved by the same, the appellants approached the Supreme Court.

The question of law which the court addressed was,

How are the competing considerations to be balanced among Ss. 437 and 439 of CRPC while granting bail?

Decision:- The Hon’ble Supreme court ordered that the appellants be released on bail on their executing a bond with two solemn sureties, each in a sum of 5 lakhs to the satisfaction of the special judge, CBI, New Delhi on the following conditions.

  1. The appellant shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person pointed with the facts or the case so as to dissuade him to disclose such facts to the court or to any authority.
  2. They shall remain present before the court on the dates fixed for hearing of the case. If they want to remain absent, then they shall take prior permission of the court and in case of unavoidable circumstances for remaining absent, they shall immediately give intimidation to the appropriate court and also to the superintend CBI and request that they may be permitted to be present through the council.
  3. They will not dispute their identity as the accused in the case.
  4. They shall surrender their passports if any ( If not already surrendered) and in case, they are not a holder of the same they shall swear to an affidavit. If the have already surrendered before the Special judge, CBI, that fact should also be supported by an affidavit.
  5. The Hon’ble Supreme court reserve liberty to the CBI to make an appropriate application for modification/ recalling the order passed by the court, if for any reason the appellants violate any of the conditions imposed by the court.

Reasoning:- Previously both the courts have refused the request for grant of bail on two grounds-

  1. The offence alleged against the accused persons is very serious involving deep rooted planning in which, huge financial loss is caused to the state exchequer and,
  2. The possibility of the accused persons tampering with the witnesses.

The reasoning behind the decision made by the Supreme Court can be summed up as follows:-

  1. The court opined that the severity of punishment and gravity of alleged offences are to be taken together.
  2. Personal liberty of the accused to be balanced with securing attendance of the accused at trial.
  3. Presumed innocence of the accused till conviction to be considered.
  4. Constitutionally protected liberty must be respected unless detention becomes a necessity.
  5. Bail is a rule and jail is an exception.
  6. Denial of bail on the ground of apprehended tampering of evidence is to be resorted to only in most extra-ordinary circumstances.
  7. Lengthy trial prolonging detention in prison beyond maximum sentence is also relevant.

This is a landmark judgment dealing with bail in connection with white collar crimes. This verdict could be treated as an eye-opener and pointer for management of such litigations in India because those cases may also have global ramifications.