'Serious, multiple attempts made to influence judiciary': SC declines pre arrest bail to IPS officer accused of impersonating HC's CJ

  • Lawbeat News Desk
  • 04:00 PM, 27 Nov 2023

Read Time: 13 minutes


Court directed the Registrar General, Patna High Court to submit, in a sealed cover, complete details of what action the High Court has taken

The Supreme Court has declined to grant anticipatory bail to an IPS officer accused of conspiring with co-accused to drive undue benefits in transfer and postings and to get disciplinary proceedings against him dropped and affect judicial proceedings in other cases by creating a fake WhatsApp account of a former Patna High Court Chief Justice, now a sitting judge of the top court.

The apex court also decided to address larger issues on administrative side by directing the Registrar General of the Patna High Court to provide details in a sealed cover of the action initiated in the matter by December 9, 2023.

Dealing with a plea for pre-arrest bail by the petitioner, IPS officer Aditya Kumar, a bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Augustine George Masih said that he was not entitled to the benefit of anticipatory bail "majorly on account of the seriousness and gravity of the alleged offences and apparent non-cooperation", though the court refrained from making comment on the merits of the case.

The court affirmed the judgment of the Patna High Court and ordered the officer to surrender before the court concerned within a period of two weeks.

In its detailed order, the court referred to the case diary, from which "it was obvious that serious and multiple attempts were made by the accused, including the petitioner, also to influence the judiciary, to derive benefit(s) in judicial proceedings in pending cases".

"It was contended that from the Case Diary, it is clear that there are chats between the two judicial officers named in the Single Judge’s Judgment, who were in touch with the co-accused with regard to getting matters listed before a particular bench of the Patna High Court," the bench said.

The court upheld the High Court's March 21, 2023 refusing bail to Kumar.

With regard to the larger issues, the bench said, "In view of what has been recorded by the Single Judge, it cannot be left unattended. This Court will certainly not shut its eyes to the materials unearthed, since it relates not only to maintaining purity in judicial proceedings, but upholding public faith in the system at large. We are of the firm view that further directions are necessitated."

"The Registrar General, Patna High Court is directed to submit, in a sealed cover, complete details of what action the High Court has taken, along with copies of relevant documents, pursuant to the reference made to ‘Hon’ble the Chief Justice for taking appropriate decision on the administrative side’ apropos all such facts which have been noted in the Impugned Judgment."

The court also directed the investigating agency to make available the entire up-to-date Case Diary, with the relevant portions, flagged, in a sealed cover, on the next date.

The bench fixed the matter for further hearing on December 12, 2023.

In his plea, the petitioner submitted that after being granted interim protection on May 12, he had cooperated with the investigating agency. He said that the charge sheet was also likely to be filed soon.

He claimed that no purpose would be served if he is directed to be taken into custody or surrender.

"Whatever allegations have been levelled against the petitioner are based on statements made by the co-accused connecting him to the crime but no direct evidence has come, at least as far as the petitioner is concerned, to substantiate that he was an active participant or had done any specific overt act in pursuance of a conspiracy," his counsel said. 

Further, he submitted that even from the Sections invoked in the FIR, it was apparent that at the highest, there might be some justification in charging him under the IT Act but, under the IPC, the Sections per se did not apply to him.

"The DGP to whom the calls were made has surprisingly not been made an accused and is now sought to be made a witness against the petitioner in the present case, which clearly shows that the authorities are trying to find a scapegoat as the matter had grown out of proportion due to the so-called ‘involvement’ of the high constitutional office of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court," his counsel said. 

Once custodial interrogation is not required, merely because the allegations are of a serious nature, a person should not be asked to surrender and undergo incarceration, his counsel said.

"Ultimately no benefit has accrued to the petitioner out of any of the alleged acts/transactions. All this was only a result of the backlash from a senior Inspector-General rank officer, with whom the petitioner had differences when both were posted together in one of the districts," his counsel said.

The Bihar government counsel said that it could not be said that the petitioner was a mere co-accused as he was the main beneficiary as also the mastermind of the entire crime.

He said that cogent evidence had emerged to link the petitioner physically with the co-accused and the tower locations of their mobile phones had been found at the places where witnesses had stated that they had met and their purpose was very obvious, that was, only to benefit the petitioner, either in posting or for dropping the charges he was facing. 

He said that though the petitioner had cooperated but his mobile phone/handset was required to complete the chain with regard to the factum that the WhatsApp messages, exchanged with the phones of the co-accused were actually received/delivered to the number of the petitioner. 

"The modus operandi was that screenshots of such chats from the number impersonating the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, were taken and sent to another number and from that number, the same was forwarded to the petitioner’s mobile for keeping him updated of the developments," the counsel said.

He said there were many areas that the investigating agency could not delve into in the absence of proper and full interrogation, including custodial, of the petitioner, especially with regard to his mobile handset.

Case Title: Aditya Kumar Vs State of Bihar & Anr