The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the stand of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail plea by ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey in connection with a money laundering case related to alleged illegal phone tapping and snooping of National Stock Exchange (NSE) employees.
Justice Jasmeet Singh issued a notice to the ED on the bail plea and asked it to file a status report.
The judge also issued a notice and sought response from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on separate petitions filed by Pandey and his company iSec Services Private Limited seeking quashing of the FIR lodged by the agency in relation to the alleged phone tapping for commission of offences under the Indian Penal Code, Indian Telegraph Act and Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the CBI, iSec in conspiracy with other accused persons illegally intercepted MTNL lines at the NSE between 2009 and 2017 and recorded calls by various NSE officials. It was alleged that the telephone monitoring was carried out by iSec without taking permission of the competent authority, as required under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, and also without the knowledge or consent of NSE employees.
Pandey, who was arrested by the ED on July 19, is currently in judicial custody. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Pandey who challenged a trial court’s August 4 order rejecting bail, urged the court to list the bail plea after a short time, and said, “He [Pandey] is a senior citizen, a police commissioner. He is not going to run away.”
‘Baseless FIR by CBI’
It was further contended that the CBI FIR ought to be quashed on grounds that no offence, as alleged by the agency, is made out against the former Mumbai top cop.
In his petition seeking quashing of the FIR in the CBI case, Pandey contended that the FIR has been registered only to fulfil a “political vendetta” against him. The plea said the FIR was “wholly baseless” and that “no offence was made out”.
While rejecting Pandey’s bail earlier this month, the trial court had said the material available prima face showed he was actively involved in the recording and monitoring of calls at the NSE, and was directly communicating with the bourse staff as well as those of the iSec Services, which was responsible for the cyber security audit of the NSE.
The trial court had noted that the material collected by the investigating officer “prima face” showed the retired IPS officer was in de facto control of the affairs of iSec even after 2006, when he resigned as a director, and kept attending the meetings with NSE officials.
It had said since the applicant was the chief of Mumbai Police till June 30, 2022, the apprehension of the investigating agency that he may influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence was not unfounded.
The ED had on July 14, arrested Chitra Ramkrishna, the former MD and CEO of the NSE in the phone tapping case.
Ramkrishna was then already in jail in the CBI case relating to the co-location scam at the NSE involving alleged manipulation of the stock market.
The matter would be heard next in September.