Merely Being ADGP Doesn't Prove Involvement: Karnataka High Court Grants Bail To IPS Officer In PSI Recruitment Fraud Conspiracy
The Karnataka High Court granted bail to petitioner (ADGP of Recruitment Wing) accused of involvement in a conspiracy related to examination fraud in the recruitment of Police Sub-Inspectors (PSIs) finding that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the petitioner had orchestrated the alleged offenses or tampered with evidence personally. This petition was filed under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.), seeking bail for the petitioner. The accused, including the petitioner (accused No. 35), were charged with offenses under Sections 120B, 420, 465, 468, 471, read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A Bench of Justice Mohammad Nawaz held that, “Merely because the petitioner was working as ADGP, Recruitment Wing, it cannot be concluded at this stage that the alleged offence is committed at his instruction or in other words, he has conspired to commit the offence. Hence, he cannot be detained in custody till conclusion of the trial, considering the number witnesses cited in charge sheet.”
The case revolved around the alleged fraudulent selection of candidates for 545 PSI vacancies in the Police Department. It was claimed that the accused conspired to manipulate candidates' answer sheets, allowing ineligible candidates to be appointed as PSI officers, all for illegal financial gain.
The petitioner, who served as ADGP of the Recruitment Wing, was accused of conspiring with others to tamper with answer sheets. He was arrested and was in judicial custody.
Senior Advocate M.S. Shyam Sundar appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate P. Prasanna Kumar appeared for the Respondent.
The defense sought bail for the petitioner, claiming his detention was illegal and based on weak evidence, while the prosecution opposed bail, citing the seriousness of the charges and the potential for interference with the case.
The Court observed that, “there is no material, except the fact that the petitioner was working as ADGP of the Recruitment Wing, to show that at his instructions the other accused persons gained access to the strong room, removed and tampered the OMR sheets of the accused – candidates who appeared for the examination.”
The Court further noted that in this case, the petitioner was alleged to have received a large sum of Rs. 1.35 crores in connection with a serious examination fraud case. However, no cash was recovered from the petitioner, and the prosecution had relied on the statement of another witness, from whom Rs. 41 lakhs were recovered.
The Court further noted that prosecution had also alleged that the petitioner instructed one witness to switch off the CCTV camera, but the defense pointed out that the CCTV footage was not in working condition according to his statement.
The Court considered the seriousness of the offense and cited legal precedents highlighting the need to balance individual liberty with the interest of society when granting bail.
The Court noted that the allegations against the petitioner primarily revolved around conspiracy, and the actual tampering with evidence was attributed to other co-accused. Therefore, the Court said that rejection of bail for those co-accused should not be a basis for detaining the petitioner.
The Court also noted that petitioner had an unblemished service record, and there were no allegations of past misconduct during his career.
As a result, the Court granted bail to the petitioner.
Cause Title: Amrit Paul IPS v. State By High Ground P.S., [2023:KHC:34838]