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Ranagate exclusive details: Rana too influential, bail refused; BC members are ‘public servants’

Indian Rupee currency bills
Indian Rupee currency bills
The Delhi High Court has rejected the third bail application of Bar Council of India (BCI) member Rajinder Singh Rana, who with two other lawyers is accused of taking a bribe to accredit a law college.

The court held that bar council members were “public servants” and the Prevention of Corruption Act would apply, also agreeing with the CBI’s argument that Rana’s influential status would hamper investigations if released on bail.

Read on for the full allegations, evidence and chronology of events, according to court documents.

Delhi High Court justice Mukta Gupta disregarded the arguments of Rana’s senior counsel Ramesh Gupta. The judge rejected Rana’s bail application and held in the 29 December order, a copy of which is with Legally India:

“Laying down the standards of professional conduct, giving recognition to universities whose degree in law would be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate is a ‘public duty’ which affects the community at large as the same effects the standards of ‘judicial systems’ of the country. The integrity and the standard of ‘judicial system’ not only affects the community of lawyers and the judges but the entire community at large.”

“Its lowering standards affects the consumers of justice, i.e. the litigants. Thus, I am prima-facie of the view that the Petitioner 1 [Rana] who is a Member of the State Bar Council of Delhi and was nominated as a Member of the BCI is a ‘public servant’ and was performing ‘public duty’ as envisaged under Section 2 of the PC Act [Prevention of Corruption Act],” added the judge.

In defending Rana, senior counsel Ramesh Gupta had said that a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act did not stand a chance as Rana was not a public servant. Neither did he get paid by the government nor was he an employee of the bar council, said Gupta who maintained that Rana as an elected representative has “roots in the society” and his arrest was also not justified on other grounds.

The high court judge also declined to draw parity with a Chennai court order that had earlier granted anticipatory bail to a co-accused lawyer in the same case, BCI vice-chairman Dhanpal Raj.

Justice Gupta applied the principles laid down by the Supreme Court and noted that releasing an influential person like Rana could jeopardise the CBI’s investigations which have just begun with material evidence and recording of witnesses account still to take place.

Chronology and evidence, according to the bail application and order

20 December 2010: Rana arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) following a raid outside the BCI’s Delhi office where he was allegedly caught red-handed accepting Rs 1 lakh bribe from co-accused advocate Manish Tyagi for accreditation of a law college based in Uttar Pradesh. CBI arrests accused and raids their houses.

First Information Report (FIR) lodged against Rana, Tyagi and BCI vice-chairman Dhanpal Raj for entering into a “criminal conspiracy” to demand “illegal gratification” for conducting inspection of Global College of Law and granting a favourable report.

Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with Sections 7,8,12 and 13(1) d of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 were therefore invoked against them in the FIR.

Evidence: The CBI has brought on record the transcription of a conversation in which Rana and Tyagi negotiated the bribe corpus after having inspected the college premises on 25 October 2010 besides the recovery of a part of bribe money as incriminating evidence.

Judge Mukta Gupta explained in the latest order rejecting the bail application: “The FIR was registered on 20 December 2010, not on the complaint of Global Law College but on the basis of intercepted conversation recorded after taking permission from the competent authority. The fact that the witnesses did not come forward to make a complaint and succumbed to give the bribe money to Petitioner No. 1 [Rana] speaks loud about the influence exerted by him because of his position in relation to the witnesses. The influence of the Petitioner No. 1 and apprehension of tampering of the evidence can also be perceived from the fact that when the raiding team went to the house of the Petitioner to conduct the search, relevant documents, money etc were taken away.”

21 December: Rana’s first bail application rejected by special vacation court.

Dhanpal Raj, Tyagi granted four weeks interim protection by Chennai High Court.

23 December: CBI judge, while rejecting Rana’s bail plea once again orders him to be put under judicial custody for two weeks. The same day, advocates in Delhi’s lower courts went on strike to protest Rana’s arrest and an “unruly mob” obstructed investigation of Rana’s office and home premises to gain material evidence, according to the CBI’s submission.

29 December: Rana moves an application before the Delhi High Court on 29 December after the CBI’s special judge declined him bail twice immediately after his arrest on 20 December, following which Rana was sent to police custody for two days.

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