NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has denied anticipatory bail to an IPS officer accused of impersonating Chief Justice of Patna High Court, now sitting judge of the top court, by creating a fake WhatsApp account in the name of the high constitutional office to influence judicial proceedings.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Augustine George Masih ordered petitioner Aditya Kumar to surrender within two weeks.
"He is not entitled to the benefit of anticipatory bail majorly on account of the seriousness and gravity of the alleged offences and apparent non-cooperation," the bench said.
Kumar was accused of conspiring with co-accused to drive undue benefits in transfer and postings and to get disciplinary proceedings against him dropped. He was booked in the case for offences under Sections 353, 387, 419, 420, 467, 468 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 66C and 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The allegations against the petitioner are that he, being an officer of the Indian Police Service, in connivance with other co-accused had conspired for deriving undue benefits of either postings or for getting disciplinary proceedings initiated against him dropped.
The court noted the crux of the case is that for the benefit of the petitioner, and with his active knowledge and connivance, through SIM Cards obtained by the co-accused, on which a WhatsApp account with a picture of the then the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court was created. It was alleged using the said WhatsApp account, calls and messages have been made to the then Director General of Police, Bihar for obtaining favourable decisions.
Refusing the anticipatory bail, the court directed the Registrar General of the Patna High Court to provide details in a sealed cover of the action initiated in the matter by December 9, 2023.
"Serious and multiple attempts were made by the accused, including the petitioner, also to influence the judiciary, to derive benefit(s) in judicial proceedings in pending cases," the bench said.
The bench also found, it is clear from case diary that there are chats between the two judicial officers named in the single judge’s judgment, who were in touch with the co-accused with regard to getting matters listed before a particular bench of the Patna High Court.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on December 12, 2023.
Going through the High Court's the single judge order, the bench said the issues raised over there cannot be left unattended.
"This court will certainly not shut its eyes to the materials unearthed, since it relates not only to maintaining purity in judicial proceedings, but upholding public faith in the system at large. We are of the firm view that further directions are necessitated," the bench said.
The court directed the Registrar General, to provide in a sealed cover, complete details of what action the High Court has taken, along with copies of relevant documents, pursuant to the reference made to the Chief Justice for taking appropriate decision on the administrative side’ apropos all such facts noted in the judgment.
The court also ordered the investigating agency to furnish the entire up-to-date Case Diary, with the relevant portions in a sealed cover, on the next date.
The bench scheduled the matter for hearing on December 12.
The state government counsel opposed the bail plea claiming that he has not cooperated with the probe and had yet not made available his mobile phone.