The Delhi High Court rejected the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s charges, including criminal conspiracy to cheat the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and corruption in the illegal telephone tapping case against Chitra Ramkrishna, former CEO of NSE, while granting bail to her on Thursday.
In his 38-page order, Justice Jasmeet Singh said, “Prima facie there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not guilty of the offence and she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail...the application is allowed and the applicant is granted bail.”
Ramkrishna’s lawyer Shivam Batra said “the scathing observations from the HC have seconded our stand that the entire prosecution has only been launched with a view to harass my client”. Ramkrishna is likely to be out of jail on Thursday since she has previously got bail in the two other cases. She has been in Tihar Jail since her arrest by the CBI last March in the original NSE co-location scam case.
The ED booked her for allegedly being a party to illegal tapping of phone calls of NSE employees conducted under the guise of an agreement between the NSE and M/s ISEC Services Private Ltd, owned by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey.
The ED said the contract was disguised to conduct “Periodic Study Of Cyber Vulnerabilities” and a payment of approximately ₹4.54 crore was made by the NSE to ISEC. Other than Ramakrishna, former NSE CEO Ravi Narain, Executive Vice-President Ravi Varanasi, and Head (Premises) Mahesh Haldipur and others were charged by the ED to have conspired to cheat the NSE and its employees.
Justice Singh rejected ED’s arguments on three schedule offences — Section 72 of the IT Act, Section 120-B of IPC read with section 420 of IPC and Section 13(2) read with section 13(1)(d) of the PC Act.
The Court stated that Section 72 of the IT Act, which deals with breach of confidentiality and privacy, did not apply in this case since the former CEO or the NSE were not conferred any powers under the Act. “Recording or tapping of phone calls sans consent of the concerned persons is an offence punishable under the Indian Telegraph Act and Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act. However, the same are not scheduled offences (under PMLA),” Justice Singh said. The court further said no complaint or victim has been identified by the ED to show wrongful loss on account of deception or cheating by the accused.