NSE phone-tapping case: Mumbai ex-top cop denied bail

Denying bail to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey in a money laundering case, a Delhi court on Thursday said that the material collected by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the case, prima facie Indicates the involvement of “and in the execution of the recording”. Monitoring of calls of employees of the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

Dismissing Pandey’s bail plea, Special Judge Sunena Sharma noted that the 1986-batch IPS officer was “directly communicating with NSE staff as well as the staff of iSec (Securities) for the said purposes.”

iSec Services Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2001 by Pandey. The ED case is based on a CBI FIR registered in 2018 against Pandey, an audit company linked to his family (iSec), and others, including NSE’s former managing director and CEO Chitra Ramkrishna.

The court said the material collected by the investigating officer prima facie show that Pandey was in “de facto control of the affairs of iSec with NSE officials”, and that he “kept giving instructions to employees of iSec for the execution of work assigned to the company by NSE”.

It held that the material shows that Pandey was “fully aware of the actual objectives for which the services of iSec were hired under the guise of ‘periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities.” Therefore, Special Judge Sharma said, “The money received for the said manifest purpose prima facie appears to be the proceeds of the offence”.

The court said Pandey was the Mumbai Police commissioner until June 30 this year, and thus ED’s apprehension that he may influence witnesses or tamper with evidence was “not unfounded”.

The court said the nomenclature given to a proposal by iSec does not match the work actually assigned to the company, as “illegal interception of calls or analysis of recorded calls has nothing to do with cyber security of NSE.”

The court also said that money laundering was an independent offence, regarding an activity connected with the proceeds of crime. It noted that in this case, top NSE officials acted as “agents of NSE in connivance with iSec” and allegedly committed “criminal activity relating to the offence criminal conspiracy to cheat the NSE and misappropriate funds of NSE” by tapping phones of employees in the “guise of the facade transaction of periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities.”

During the arguments on bail, Pandey, through his lawyer Tanveer Ahmed Mir, had said that he was implicated in the investigation of high-profile political cases.

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