2011 ALL MR (Cri) 1535
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
B.H. MARLAPALLE AND U.D. SALVI, JJ.
Citizens Organisation For Public Opinion Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Ors.
Criminal Public Interest Litigation No.5 of 2007
24th March, 2011
Petitioner Counsel: Mr. SUBHASH JHA ,M/s. Law Global
Respondent Counsel: Mr. P. A. POL,Mr. M. S. RAO,Mr. SANDEEP WAGHMARE
Constitution of India, Art.226 - Public Interest Litigation - Costs - Petitioner attempting to indulge in character assassination based on so-called newspaper reports - Petitioner grossly mis-using the forum of Public Interest Petition - Held, it is imperative that the petitioner is saddled with exemplary costs - The amount of Rs.1,00,000/- deposited by way of costs alongwith interest earned thereon shall stand forfeited by way of exemplary costs and the entire amount shall stand remitted to Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority. (Paras 16, 17)
Manohar Lal Vs. Vinesh Anand, 2001 ALL MR (Cri) 1226 (S.C.)=(2001)5 SCC 407 [Para 5]
State of Bihar Vs. Ranchi Zilla Samta Party, (1996)3 SCC 682 [Para 5]
Vineet Narayan Vs. Union of India, (1998)1 SCC 226 [Para 5]
Dr. B. Singh Vs. Union of India, (2004)3 SCC 363 [Para 12]
B. H. MARLPALLE, J.:- The petitioner claims to be a Non-Government Organization (NGO), formed in the year 1989. It is not stated whether it is a legal entity in as much as whether it has been registered under any appropriate Act. The petitioner claims that in this petition it seeks to expose Senior Police Officers indulging in corruption during the course of conducting investigation and as the quality and standard of investigation is likely to be seriously jeopardized, enabling the guilty to escape punishment because of the senior police officers shielding the culprits for extraneous considerations and hence, so as to ensure clean and efficient administration of criminal justice system, the indulgence of this court is sought for giving appropriate directions to the authorities concerned.
2. As per the petitioner, disturbing newspaper reports were published concerning corruption by the State CID officials of Pune, which indicated that the Commissioner of Police, Pune City and the then Additional Director General of Police, State CID as well as his subordinates were indulging in such acts. The petitioner, therefore, collected newspaper reports about the illegal detention of Shri. Sanjay Ramchandra Randive and Shri. Thomas Joseph Tavares, who had become the victims of illegal demands of gratification made by the subordinates of the Additional Director General of Police, State CID.
3. On 16/8/2004, the Hyderabad Police had arrested an Iranian national in an illegal Visa extension case and brought him to Pune. A case was registered at the Chaturshrungi Police Station, Pune, being C.R. No.317 of 2004 under Sections 466, 468, 471, 420, 120-B, 201 of IPC read with Section 14 of the Foreigners' Act, 1946. The investigation of the said case was subsequently transferred to the State CID, headed by Shri. Jayant Umranikar. As many as 60 persons came to be arraigned as accused, including travel agent Shri. Thomas Joseph Tavares, some employees from Mantralaya, including Desk Officers, Deputy Secretaries and some Senior Police Officers. Shri. Thomas Tavares was arrested in the aforesaid case and as per the petitioner, an amount of Rs.1,00,000/- was extorted from him by Shri. V. A. Shinde, Deputy Superintendent of Police, State CID in February, 2006. This amount of Rs.1,00,000/- was paid in three installments in the account of Shri. V. A. Shinde and by cheques dated 18/2/2006, 21/2/2006 and 22/2/2006. In return, Shri. Tavares was promised and assured that his name will not be included in the charge-sheet. However, when the charge-sheet was submitted on 31/7/2006, Shri. Tavares was added as one of the accused and hence, he demanded his money back from Shri. V. A. Shinde, who issued three cheques dated 7/9/2006 (for Rs.40,000/-), 20/9/2006 (for Rs.30,000/-) and 20/10/2006 (for Rs.30,000/-). One cheque of Rs.40,000/- was encashed but the remaining two cheques could not be presented for encashment because of the threats by Shri. V. A. Shinde to Shri. Tavares. Hence, Shri. Tavares lodged a complaint dated 21/3/2007 with respondent no.2 and placed all the facts on record praying for action in the matter. However, no offence was registered on the basis of the complaint dated 21/3/2007 and there was an uproar on the floor of the legislative assembly on 16/4/2007 on the same issue.
4. Shri. Sanjay Ramchandra Randive, a resident of Shahanshah Apartment, Room No.9, Koregaon Park, Pune - 1 runs a travel agency by name "Global Link Travel" at Pune and he is thus involved in the business of air ticket booking, arranging vehicles, hotel bookings to foreigners and offering them help and facilities for the last 10 years. On 9/3/2005 Shri. J. F. Pathan, Inspector from State CID raided the office of Shri. Randive in connection with C.R. No.317 of 2004 and seized certain documents from there. Shri. Randive was directed to report to the office of the State CID, Pune. He continued to report to the State CID, but he was not arrested for more than a year. On 3/4/2006, Shri. V. A. Shinde, Deputy Superintendent of Police summoned Shri. Randive to his office and along with him Police Inspector Palange and Writer Salvi were also present. Shri. Randive was told by Shri. V. A. Shinde that his top boss had to go to Delhi and therefore, Shri. Randive should arrange for one business class and two economy class air tickets for Pune-Delhi-Pune sector. Shri. Randive refused to purchase/provide these tickets and he was threatened by Shri. Shinde. Thereafter, Shri. Randive was shown arrested and sent to the Bundgarden Police Station lock up. While he was in the custody, PI Shri. Palange and Writer Shri. Salvi asked the constables on duty at the lock up that Shri. Randive be kept in the company of drug addicts or people who are insane so that he could be tortured. Shri. Randive was produced in the court of the JMFC at Pune on 4/4/2006 and was remanded to the police custody till 8/4/2006. Shri. Randive was removed from the police lock up in the morning on 5/4/2006 by PI Palange and was taken to the office of State CID. He was informed that if he could arrange for the air tickets, he would not remain behind the bars and would also be spared from being beaten up. Shri. Randive, therefore, succumbed to the pressure tactics and purchased three air tickets costing Rs.53,176/- for the Pune-Delhi-Pune route for Shri. Jayant Umranikar, his wife Smt. A. J. Umranikar and daughter Ms. A. J. Umranikar for the journey of 6/4/2007. These tickets were arranged by M/s. Akbar Travels for Global Link Travels, which is the travel company of Shri. Randive. A copy of the client's statement of Akbar Travels in the name of Global Link Travels is placed on record.
5. It is further alleged that on these counts and in this manner Shri. Randive remained in illegal police custody from 3rd April, 2006 to 8th April, 2006 on which day he was granted bail. It is further alleged that the State CID officials like Shri. Shinde and Shri. Palange did not stop here alone, but indeed they continued to extract illegal favours from Shri. Randive. He was told that when he is called to the State CID office he shall bring one bottle of Bagpiper or Signature whiskey and feeling further tortures, Shri. Randive supplied such bottles on every Monday in the month of April so as to avoid any further arrest. Shri. Randive was forced to pay Rs.3,000/- and 4,000/- on four different occasions to Shri. Shinde. Shri. Shinde further forced Shri. Randive to buy air ticket in the name of his senior Shri. Vinayak Shinde for Mumbai to Boston (US) route on 14th December, 2006 and the air fair came to Rs.29,910/-. A copy of the invoice issued by Akbar Travels in favour of Global Link Travels to the same effect is placed on record. Shri. Randive was promised to be discharged from the case, if he was to arrange for Rs.2 Lacs to be paid to Shri. Shinde, and he was made to sign a credit card application form of ICICI bank for a credit limit of Rs.2 Lacs. Shri. Randive was forced to deposit the said amount and Shri. Shinde withdrew the same. He addressed a complaint dated 21st June, 2007 in this regard to the Chief of State CID but he did not hear anything further. He had urged that inquiry be conducted into these specific favours extracted by Shri. Shinde and suitable departmental action be taken against him. He repeated the said request vide his subsequent letter dated 9th July, 2007 but he did not hear anything. He, therefore, suspected that Shri. Shinde had the support of his higher-ups and more particularly Shri. Jayant Umranikar was trying to shield him. He believed that Shri. Jayant Umranikar was also involved in these acts of corrupt practices as well as manipulation of record. Several newspaper reports were published and the petitioner, therefore, decided to approach the High Court in Public Interest and with a sole intention to clean the State CID. It is claimed by the petitioner that the newspaper reports annexed to the petition memo indicated that the people who were responsible for conducting investigation in the matter of commission of offences were either shirking the responsibility on account of pressure exerted by those who were involved in corrupt practices and there seem to be a serious attempt to shield such corrupt police officers. It is a statutory responsibility of the investigating agency to investigate into an offence so as to ensure that the guilty are brought to the book. Despite sufficient material having been brought to the notice of the State CID, nothing was being done to cause investigation and such corrupt act officers were permitted to go scot free merely because the higher echelon of power was extending a tacit support to the corrupt officials as well as the corrupt acts. The petitioner in this regard has placed reliance on the decisions in the case of Manohar Lal Vs. Vinesh Anand [(2001)5 SCC 407 : (2001 ALL MR (Cri) 1226 (S.C.))], the State of Bihar and another Vs. Ranchi Zilla Samta Party and anr. [(1996)3 SCC 682] and Vineet Narayan and others Vs. Union of India and anr. [(1998)1 SCC 226].
Clause 5 : Control of cases taken up by the CID - Subject to the general control of the Director General, the Additional Director General of Police, CID (Crime), Maharashtra State will be the controlling officer in respect of all cases taken up by the State CID for investigation.
Clause 6 : Investigation and enquiries by Field Officers of the State CID.
(a) Each of the 7 units of the State CID at Pune, Kolhapur, Navi Mumbai, Nasik, Nagpur, Amravati and Aurangabad will be in the charge of Additional Superintendent of Police who will have under him the required number of Dy.S.Ps., Inspectors, Sub Inspectors, Head Constables, Clerks and Peons. The Executive Officer attached to these units including the Additional Superintendents will be field officers. The jurisdiction of each Unit will generally correspond to that of the respective Range.
(b) In addition there will also be District CID units working under the Range units.
(c) Whenever a case is taken up by CID it will be entrusted to a Field Officer by issuing a specific order to him.
(d) When a Field Officer receives an order to investigate a case or enquire into any matter, he will collect the relevant papers from the district concerned. After going through the case papers and discussing it with the Additional Superintendent of Police in-charge of the Range Unit he will prepare a plan and investigation/ enquiry and submit the same to his S.P., CID (Crime) for approval.
7. The petitioner, therefore, contends that the due process for investigation has been set out in the Manual and despite the complaints against Shri. Shinde, the Dy.S.P., State CID there was no investigation/enquiry ordered against him and other officials and, therefore, there was a reason to believe that there was a conspiracy to indulge in rampant corruption. Reliance in this regard has also been placed on the news items published in a Marathi daily by name "Samna" in its edition of 17th July, 2007 and the said report was concerning about Shri. Vithal Shinde. There were serious allegations made about his integrity and that he was involved in rape case and was also arrested/suspended. Despite his transfer from the State CID about a year ago, he was deliberately retained in the State CID at the instance and behest of Shri. Jayant Umranikar. It is for these reasons the petitioner prayed for investigation from an independent investigating agency into the allegations made by Shri. Randive and Shri. Tavares against the State CID Police Officers. The petitioner has referred to the circular dated 25th September, 2000 in that regard issued by the Central Vigilance Commission. By contending that the said circular is squarely applicable in the instant case, it is contended that the officials concerned were required to be placed under suspension forthwith. It is also pointed out that as per the said legal position the investigation is a statutory function cast upon investigating agency and when sufficient material has been brought on record in the form of a complaint, the authority entrusted to investigate was obliged to take further effective steps so as to discharge its obligation and as these officials have failed to do so, the petitioner has approached this Court invoking its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution so as to seek appropriate orders to cause investigation by an independent agency against the corrupt officers and their corrupt practices.
8. As there were serious allegations made against Shri. Umranikar and doubts were raised about his integrity as well, the petitioner was directed to implead the said police officer as an additional respondent and it has been so done. To test the bona fides of the petitioner, it was directed to deposit a sum of Rs.1 Lac and the same amount has also been deposited with the Registry of this Court.
9. During the pendency of this petition the State of Maharashtra called upon the Director General Anti Corruption Bureau to enquire into the allegations made against Shri. Umranikar and more particularly the purchase of air tickets for the to and fro journey from Pune to Delhi of the said police officer along with his family members. Enquiry has also been conducted regarding the propriety in the use of the Secret Service Fund as advance for purchase of business class air ticket by Shri. Umranikar. The Director General, Anti Corruption Bureau submitted his report dated 23rd September, 2008 to the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department. The investigation into the allegations of obtaining air tickets for Shri. Umranikar and his family members from an accused in the custody revealed as under :
"(a) The investigation clearly indicates that Dy.S.P. Shri. V. A. Shinde and Police Inspector Shri. Palange had procured business class air ticket for to and fro journey of Shri. J. Y. Umranikar and two economy class tickets for Mrs. Umranikar and their daughter on 5th April, 2006 from accused Shri. Sanjay Ramchandra Randive, who is a travel sub-agent and who was in the custody of the CID officers from 3rd April to 8th April, 2006 in connection with the VISA extension racket case at Pune.
(b) Shri. Umranikar and his family performed the air journey to Delhi from Pune on 6th April, 2006 and the return journey on 7th April, 2006. Shri. Umranikar was away from his office from the afternoon of 4th April, 2006 to the evening of 5th April, 2006 as he had come to Mumbai for attending a meeting of Jail Reforms Committee.
(c) Dy. S.P. Shri. Shinde was asked by Shri. J. Y. Umranikar to purchase the air tickets for which he had provided Rs.36,000/- from Secret Service Funde (for his own ticket) and Rs.17,000/- from his personal funds for the air tickets of his family on 4th April, 2006 before leaving Pune for Mumbai. Shri. Sahane, a confidential clerk working in the office of the Addl. Director General of Police, State CID Crime Pune, corroborates this fact. Shri. Shinde himself accepts that Shri. Umranikar paid the money as above to him on 4th April, 2006.
(d) Shri. Randive has claimed that he was arrested because he refused to provide the air tickets on 3rd April, 2006. However, it appears that he was absconding and was put under arrest only on 3rd April, 2006, though the record shows that Shri. Shinde had obtained approval for Randive's arrest about a year back. Moreover, Shri. Umranikar asked Shri. Shinde to book the air tickets on 4th April, 2006, i.e. one day after Randive's arrest.
(e) Shri. Shinde has contended that Randive's office boy Tamboli brought the air tickets to him on 4th April, 2006 in the evening and he paid the amount of Rs.53,176/- to him. However, Shri. Randive and his office boy Tamboli have stated that Shinde did not pay for the air tickets."
10. It has been further pointed out in the report that Shri. Randive had no occasion to meet Shri. Umranikar either before he was taken in police custody or after he was arrested. There was substantial corroboration to the fact that Shri. Umranikar withdrew Rs.36,000/- from Secret Service Fund which was handed over to Shri. Shinde along with cash of Rs.17,000/- by Shri. Umranikar who was required to undertake the air journey for official work, at short notice. It was also seen from the statement given by the Personal Assistant to Shri. Umranikar that there had been a practice to draw advance from the Secret Service Fund for the purchase of air tickets for official journey for quite sometime and even before Shri. Umranikar had assumed charge of the said post. In fact it is believed by the police officers that such a practice existed in other office as well. There was an ample evidence to prove that money drawn from the Secret Service Fund was restored in the Fund after the bill was raised for the air travel. Since the money was only withdrawn as an advance and not spent, entry regarding the same in the official records/register was not taken and the Additional Director General was expected to make the entry only regarding the money actually spent for an official purpose. The report, therefore, concluded that there was no element of dishonesty on the part of Shri. Umranikar, in drawing an advance from the Fund which is at the disposal of the Head of Department viz. the Additional Director General. Rules regarding use of Secret Service Fund were also examined and it was found that they do list/cover the specific purposes for which the fund may be used. The report concluded that the action of Shri. Umranikar in drawing money from Secret Service Fund as an advance for purchase of air ticket for his official journey appeared to be bona fide and there was no criminal intention which could be attributed for the same. A copy of the Maharashtra Contingent Expenditure Rules, 1965 has also been placed on record.
11. The affidavit-in-reply filed by the Additional Director General, Anti-Corruption Bureau Shri. Ajit Vasant Parasnis states that Shri. Taveres and Shri. Randive were arrested in Crime No.317 of 2004 of Chaturshrungi Police Station on 26th June, 2005 and 3rd April, 2006 respectively by the State CID, Crime, Pune and charge-sheet was filed on completion of investigation into the said crime, on 31st July, 2006 against both of them and the offence related to illegal Visa extensions. It was also pointed out that the letter dated 21st June, 2007 submitted by Shri. Randive did not contain any direct allegations against Shri. Umranikar, who had subsequently taken over as the Commissioner of Police, Pune. For the first time, in the instant petition, baseless allegations have been made against Shri. Umranikar. It has been further submitted that Shri. Randive had made allegations, by his letter dated 21st June, 2007 only against Shri. V. K. Shinde, Deputy S.P. and Shri. Palange, Police Inspector and Writer Head Constable Shri. Salvi all from C.I.D., Pune. The official inquiry was conducted by the Anti Corruption Bureau, Nasik Unit on the basis of the complaint submitted by Shri. Tavares dated 21st March, 2007 with regard to the deposit of cash in the Savings Bank Account of Shri. Shinde, Deputy S.P. and the return of the said amount by Shri. Shinde by issuing cheques which were dishonoured. A case was registered against Shri. Shinde bearing C.R. No.3091 of 2007 at the Bund Garden Police Station on 15th May, 2007 for the offences punishable under sections 7, 12, 13(1)(a) read with section 13(2)(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 as well as Sections 109 and 506 of Indian Penal Code against Shri. Shinde, Deputy S.P., Shri. Palange, P.I. and Shri. Salve, Head Constable. Shri. Shinde was arrested and subsequently released on bail on 21st May, 2007. The records further reveal that neither concrete nor sufficient evidence had come forward against Shri. Palange and Shri. Salvi.
12. The affidavit further states that the allegations made by Shri. Randive in his letter dated 9th July, 2007 were found to be unsubstantiated and false. During the course of the inquiry conducted by the A.C.B., Nasik Unit, the Enquiry Officer had put specific questions to Shri. Randive so as to know whether at any point of time he had any occasion to meet Shri. Umranikar and Shri. Randive had answered in the negative. It was also found during the course of inquiry that from 4th April, 2006 evening to 5th April, 2006 late evening Shri. Umranikar was not in his office at Pune and instead he was on visit to Mumbai for official work. There was an order directing Shri. Randive to attend the office of C.I.D., Pune between 05.00 to 06.00 p.m. on all Mondays. Shri. Umranikar had asked his office clerk Shri. Sahane and told him to draw Rs.36,000/- as temporary advance for his air ticket from the office funds and had taken out a cash amount of Rs.17,000/- on his personnel brief case and handed over a total sum of Rs.53,000/- to Shri. Shinde in the presence of Clerk Shri. Sahane and, thereafter, Shri. Umranikar proceeded to Mumbai for the meeting of the Jail Reforms Commission. It is further claimed that when Shri. Randive was present for interrogation by the State CID on 5th April, 2006 and while Shri. Shinde was speaking about purchase of Air Tickets, Shri. Randive suggested that he could arrange the ticket booking through his office and accordingly he used the State CID telephone and spoke to his wife giving instructions to her for booking the air tickets. Buying air tickets through Shri. Randive was not an act of any favours and it cannot be said that Shri. Randive was forced to buy the air tickets on the assurance that he would be released on bail. On the contrary, it is asserted, that Shri. Shinde was handed over the sum of Rs.53,000/- to purchase the ticket for Shri. Umranikar for his to and fro journey to Delhi and the allegations that the tickets were bought from the personal funds of Shri. Randive or any of his forms is not supported from the record. It is further alleged that the Petitioner has deliberately and with mala fide intentions unnecessarily roped in Shri. Umranikar, a senior Police Officer of impeccable integrity and character. It is further contended that only to make a sensational case, false and baseless allegations against Shri. Umranikar have been set out in the petition and it has been pointed out that either Shri. Tavares or Shri. Shinde had not raised any such allegations/accusations against Shri. Umranikar in their representations/complaints addressed to the State CID at any time before the petition was filed. The State of Maharashtra has, therefore, contended that the petition deserves to be dismissed by imposing exemplary costs. Reliance in this regard has been placed on the decision in the case of Dr. B. Singh Vs. Union of India and others, [(2004)3 SCC 363] and more particularly paragraph 14 therein, which reads as under :
"14. The court has to be satisfied about : (a) the credentials of the applicant; (b) the prima facie correctness or nature of information given by him; and (c) the information being not vague and indefinite. The information should show gravity and seriousness involved. Court has to strike a balance between two conflicting interests : (i) nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character of others; and (ii) avoidance of public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions seeking to assail, for oblique motives, justifiable executive actions. In such case, however, the court cannot afford to be liberal. It has to be extremely careful to see that under the guise of redressing a public grievance, it does not encroach upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution to the executive and the legislature. The Court has to act ruthlessly while dealing with imposters and busybodies or meddlesome interlopers impersonating as public-spirited holy men. They masquerade as crusaders of justice. They pretend to act in the name of pro bono publico, though they have no interest of the public or even of their own to protect."
13. Shri. Jayant Umranikar has also filed affidavit-in-reply and opposed the petition. He joined the Indian Police Service on 16/7/1973 as Additional Superintendent of Police at Aurangabad on completion of the training. He was promoted as Additional Superintendent of Police, Thane in September, 1977 and came to be appointed as Superintendent of Police at Satara in January, 1979. He served as Assistant Director in the Cabinet Secretariat on deputation to the Central Government and subsequently he held the same post at Special Bureau, Patna. He was deputed to Foreign Service from 1984 to 1992 and on his return, he was posted as Additional Commissioner of Police, Special Bureau in the year 1995. He held the post of Commissioner, Special Bureau, Mumbai till June, 1997 and was awarded Police Medal in 1995 for meritorious service. He was on special assignment between 1997 to 2001 and worked as Alternate Permanent Representative of India at the UN Office Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCP), Vienna and Austria. After his return to India on 7/1/2001, he rejoined the Cabinet Secretariat and joined the Maharashtra Police Head Quarters at Mumbai on 19/11/2001 and came to be posted as Joint Commissioner of Police, Nagpur in March, 2002 on promotion. On 1/9/2002 he was posted as Commissioner of Police, Nagpur and from 24/5/2004 he was appointed as the Additional Director General of Police, CID, Maharashtra State at Pune. He was awarded with President's Police Medal for Distinguished Services on 15th August, 2002. He took charge as the Commissioner of Police, Pune in March, 2007. He had received an invitation on 3/4/2006 from the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, New Delhi to deliver a lecture on 7/4/2006, on career Management to the final year students. On 4/4/2006 he asked his Reader Shri. Shinde to enquire about the availability of air tickets for to and fro journey to Delhi on 6/4/2007 and thereafter the Confidential Clerk Shri. Sahane was asked to draw Rs.36,000/- as temporary advance from the office funds allotted to the Additional Director General of Police, CID and further paid an amount of Rs.17,000/- in cash to buy three air tickets. This entire amount of Rs.53,000/- was paid to Shri. Shinde to purchase the tickets and he proceeded to Mumbai for attending a meeting on 5/4/2006. He reached his home at Pune on 5/4/2006 in the evening and three air tickets of Sahara Airlines were already delivered to his residence and the tickets were issued by the travel agency by name M/s. Akbar Travels. He has also stated that on return from Delhi visit, he submitted the T.A. bill and settled the cash amount withdrawn as an advance from the official funds. He also stated that he has never met either Shri. Randive or Shri. Tavares.
It is obvious from this affidavit that when Shri. Randive submitted his representations/complaints dated 21/6/2007 and 9/7/2007 to the Director General of Police, Anti Corruption Bureau, Shri. Umaranikar was not associated with the State CID and these complaints do not indicate that a copy of the same was marked to Shri. Umaranikar.
14. So far as the complaint dated 9/7/2007 submitted by Shri. Randive to the Director General of Police, ACB, Mumbai is concerned, it is mainly dealing with the grievance of Shri. Randive regarding his statements recorded by the Additional Superintendent of Police, Anti-Corruption, Nasik on 29/6/2007 and 3/7/2007. Hence, the following issues remain for our considerations :-
(a) Whether a case has been made out to direct respondent no.2 to conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint dated 21/6/2007 submitted by Shri. Sanjay Ramchandra Randive ?
(b) Whether any case has been made out to direct respondent no.1 to take disciplinary action against Shri. Jayant Umaranikar, Shri. Vitthal Shinde, Shri. G. V. Palange and Shri. Danial Salvi ?
So far as the prayer to direct the CBI or any other investigating agency to conduct thorough investigation into the complaints of Shri. Randive is concerned, it is pertinent to note that Shri. Randive has not raised any grievance against Shri. Umaranikar in the said complaints. At the same time, he has not alleged in the complaint dated 21/6/2007 that he was illegally detained by Shri. Shinde and Shri. Palange from 3/4/2006 to 8/4/2006. Even in the subsequent complaint dated 9/7/2007, Shri. Randive has not complained of the alleged illegal detention/arrest from 3/4/2006 to 8/4/2006. If Shri. Randive was personally aggrieved by any illegal act of Shri. Shinde, he could have resorted to appropriate legal remedies, including filing of a private criminal complaint before the competent court at Pune or a Writ Petition before this Court, about his illegal detention. At no point of time, he complained to the Director General of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau that he was illegally detained/arrested from 3/4/2006 to 8/4/2006. On the contrary, it appears from the record that he passed on his complaints dated 21/6/2007 and 9/7/2007 to the media and the reports, levelling serious allegations against Shri. Umranikar, came to be published in the local newspapers. As noted earlier, the petitioner itself has claimed that the present petition has been moved on the basis of such press reports only. At the same time, there is nothing on record to show that Shri. Randive had approached the petitioner and requested to take up his cause by filing a writ petition either for the redressal of his personal complaints or to file a PIL Petition. The personal cause of Shri. Randive or Shri. Tavares against the alleged illegal detention, cannot be allowed to be agitated in a petition filed in public interest. Even otherwise, the remand application submitted before the learned JMFC, 9th Court at Pune, goes to show that Shri. Randive was arrested on 3/4/2006 at 16.30 hrs. in connection with C.R. No.317 of 2004. He was produced for remand on more than one occasions and was granted bail on 8/4/2006. Why did he wait for more than one year to challenge his purported illegal detention before an appropriate authority/court ? The petitioner has failed to furnish any explanation to this moot question.
15. Shri. Anil Siddhappa Bagalkot, Deputy Superintendent of Police then attached to the Flying Squad, C.I.D., Maharashtra State and he was the investigating officer in C.R. No.317 of 2004 registered with the Chaturshrungi Police Station for the offences punishable under Sections 466, 468, 471, 420 and 120-B of I.P.C. read with Section 14 of the Foreigner's Registration Act, 1946. It has been pointed out that the said case was transferred to the C.I.D., State of Maharashtra by order dated 2nd September, 2004 and the investigation was handed over to Shri. Shinde, Deputy Inspector and Shri. Shinde conducted the investigation on 22nd May, 2007. Thereafter Shri. B. R. Patil, Deputy S.P., conducted the investigation upto 22nd August, 2007 and thereafter the affiant had taken over the investigation. It has been pointed out that Shri. Tavares was arrested on 26th June, 2005 and Shri. Sanjay Randive was arrested on 3rd April, 2006 in connection with C.R. No.317 of 2004 and the charge-sheet has been filed on 31st July, 2006. It has been further pointed out that during the course of investigation in C.R. No.317 of 2004 the office of Shri. Sanjay Randive was searched on 9th March, 2005 and some incriminating documents including photo copy of the residential permit and unattended passports of New Zealand national were seized. After the charge sheet was filed the case has been registered as Criminal Case No.4550 of 2006 and it is pending for trial before the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Court No.9, Shivajinagar, Pune. There are in all 58 accused facing the trial, including 15 travel agents like Shri. Tavares and Shri. Sanjay Randive.
16. It is thus clear the complaints submitted by Shri. Tavares and Shri. Randive were transferred to the A.C.B., Nashik Unit, rather than the A.C.B., Pune Unit, for enquiry and the enquiry report has been submitted. The State Government has to take appropriate steps on the said report, as per the Rules. At the same time Shri. Shinde is already facing the criminal case filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. From the petitioner's own pleading it is an admitted fact that the complaint dated 21st June, 2007 by Shri. Randive was referred to the A.C.B., Nashik Unit for further inquiry before this petition was instituted. Having regard to the affidavits filed by the State of Maharashtra and the investigating officers as well as the report dated 23rd September, 2008 submitted by the Director General, A.C.B., Maharashtra State, Mumbai to the State Government, we are satisfied that Shri. Umranikar had paid an amount of Rs.53,000/- to Shri. V. A. Shinde, Deputy S.P., to buy air tickets. Shri. Umranikar never asked Shri. Randive or any of his representative to buy air tickets for him and whether Shri. V. A. Shinde misused his position in the purchase of the said ticket is a matter of investigation in the pending case filed against him under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. There is absolutely no case made out against Shri. Umranikar in this petition for any direction. The petition has been based only on the newspaper reports published and it is alleged that the said reports made out a case of involvement of Shri. Umranikar in corruption and manipulation of records. It is also alleged that as per the said newspaper reports, the officers who were responsible in conducting the investigation were either shirking responsibility on account of pressure exerted by those involved in the commission of offence or there was some effort to shield such corrupt officers. These are all frivolous allegations made by the petitioner and targeting more particularly Shri. Umranikar. Mr. Rao, the learned Senior Counsel was right in his submissions that the petitioner has attempted to indulge in character assassination of Shri. Umranikar based on the so-called newspaper reports and this petition was not in public interest. The petitioner has gone to the extent of asking for deep probe into the assets (movable and/or immovable) of Shri. Umranikar and on the face of the complaint dated 21st June, 2007 submitted by Shri. Sanjay Randive to the Director General of Anti Corruption Bureau, Maharashtra State, there was not a whisper against Shri. Umranikar even bordering the allegations set out in this petition against Shri. Umranikar. The petitioner has grossly mis-used the forum of public interest petition so far as Shri. Umranikar is concerned and, therefore, it is imperative that the petitioner is saddled with exemplary costs.
17. In the premises, this petition fails and the same is hereby dismissed. The amount of Rs.1,00,000/- deposited by way of costs along with interest earned thereon shall stand forfeited by way of exemplary costs and the entire amount shall stand remitted to the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority.