104 Kilograms of Sea Gold

On receiving an intelligence input, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had intercepted a Pakistan Flag Ship, ‘Al Madina’, in Indian territorial waters on 21/05/2019. Narcotics were being clandestinely brought into Gujarat from Pakistan. During interrogation, Captain stated, delivery had to be made at a particular position on sea for which a communication was to be sent on VHF. Communication Channel No. 8 was earmarked for this purpose. Captain was to use call sign ‘Mohammed’ and Indian counterpart was to respond with sign ‘Ramzan.

On receiving aforesaid information, a Radio Operator was deputed by Indian Coast Guard Officers to go on calling ‘Mohammed-Ramzan-Ramzan’ by a hit & trial method on VHF Channel No. 16, an International Maritime Channel. Ramjhan on board an Indian Fishing Boat, drifting in a location close to where ‘Al Madina’ was intercepted, had replied, ‘Ramzan-Haan Bolo, on VHF Channel No. 8.

Learned Senior Counsel, Mr. R. Basant argued, Ramjhan replying with words ‘Ramzan-Haan Bolo’ cannot be treated as sufficient to reject his Bail Application, more so when his name happens to be Ramjhan Gani Palani. Reference was also made to value of 7 fish sold by Ramjhan of which price of 5 fish, colloquially known as ‘Sea Gold’, weighing 104 kilograms, is stated to be pegged at around Rs. 1400/- [Rupees Fourteen Hundred] per kilogram.

We are of prima facie view, there is sufficient material on record to deny discretionary relief. Much is sought to be made of Ghol netted over 5 days of remaining on high seas. This appears to be a case where Ramjhan has been fishing in troubled waters and, as per National Investigating Agency, has got caught in his own net.

Three-Judge Bench, Ramjhan Gani Palani v. National Investigating Agency, [Petition for Special Leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 8942 of 2021].