The Question of Six Zeroes in Call No. 51

Former Delhi Excise Chief, Dr. Anup Kumar Srivastava received a reprieve from the Supreme Court, recently.

“There is no material evidence on record in order to bring home the charge of conspiracy against the Respondent. There is no direct or circumstantial evidence to prove that the Respondent has demanded any illegal gratification and has accepted or obtained any such illegal gratification…

It is made clear that the present conclusion is confined only to the disposal of this appeal and the Trial Court is free to decide the case on merits with regard to other accused persons.”

The CBI for the last six years has been consistent in its accusation that on 28.12.2011, a team of Officials of Central Excise lead by Lallan Ojha, Superintendent, conducted an illegal raid. Dr. Srivastava through one Hemant Gandhi negotiated with the owners of the premises for illegal gratification in lieu of not taking any action against them and finalized the bribe amount of Rs. 60 Lakhs.

Doctor was arrested on 13.01.2012, soon after his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by Court. He was admitted in AIIMS for treatment in judicial custody. A leap day order by the Court of Special Judge, (CBI-01), Patiala House charged him under Section 120-B of the IPC and Sections 7, 12 and 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of The PC Act. The High Court quashed this order. Before the Supreme Court, the CBI, relying upon 96 conversations recorded between 23.12.2011 to 02.01.2012 by the Special Unit (SU), especially laid emphasis on Call Number 51 that lasted for 68 seconds and wherein the amount of ‘Six Zero’ was referred.

Call No. 51

HG Hello
Kapoor Hello
HG Yes Please
PA A… Sir, Hemant Gandhi Ji is there.
HG Yes, Yes.
PA Sir, Commissioner sahib will talk.
Anoop Yes, Hemant.
HG Sir, the mission is successful
Anoop Yes, will you come to me.
HG Sir, actually I had to take my father to a doctor, I was trying to tell this to you in the morning also, but you had disconnected.
Anoop Ok, when will you come home.
HG I will come tomorrow.
Anoop At which time.
HG Tomorrow in the afternoon at about 11-12 noon.
Anoop Ok then come.
HG And Sir, that eight and fifteen.
Anoop Yes, Ok.
HG And they said that it was received.
Anoop No, still did not meet
HG A…… Six
Anoop Chairman had come.
HG Six Zero, is it ok.
Anoop Ok
HG Yes Sir.

The Supreme Court has held that Call Number 51 lacked the object and purpose to prove the complicity of Dr. Srivastava.

“Call No. 51 was made by Hemant Gandhi to the Respondent on 28.12.2011 wherein Hemant Gandhi informed the Respondent that the mission was successful… on a careful scrutiny of the call, it cannot be inferred that the Respondent agreed to demand the illegal gratification and also there was no direct talk between Lallan Ojha and the Respondent who was supposed to inform his senior officer on whose direction he was leading the raiding team.

In the call, it was Hemant Gandhi who used the words ‘mission successful’. In our opinion, the prosecution has wrongly connected the words ‘mission successful’ in Call No. 48 with that of in Call No. 51. In Call No. 48, it is very much clear that Mahender Kapoor and Hemant Gandhi were talking about the alleged raid and Hemant Gandhi himself accepted that he provided the information for the same. When the Respondent was not at all in picture in Call No. 48 how can he be connected in Call No. 51 by showing the use of words ‘mission successful’ and ‘Six Zero’ that too when none of the members of the raiding team informed about the same to him.

During the alleged conversation in Call No. 51, it has also been noticed that Hemant Gandhi has used three more figures ‘eight’, ‘fifteen’ and ‘six’ which makes the conversation ambiguous and beyond any comprehension and it does not make out any logical understanding of the actual conversation between the parties making it. Hence, no adverse inference can be drawn against the Respondent herein with regard to the same.”

– Hon’ble Justice R.K. Agrawal, CBI v. Dr. Anup Kumar Srivastava [Criminal Appeal No. 1336 of 2017].