Sunday, July 11, 2010

SC – Citation for Discharge U/s 239 CrPC:State of Maharashtra and Ors. v. Som Nath Thapa and Ors. AIR 1996 SC 1744

Discharge U/s 239 CrPC: State of Maharashtra and Ors. v. Som Nath Thapa and Ors. AIR 1996 SC 1744




DATE OF JUDGMENT:    12/04/1996

SEN, S.C. (J)

1996 AIR 1744          1996 SCC  (4) 659
JT 1996 (4)   615      1996 SCALE  (3)449



              J U D G M E N T
     Bombay of yesterday, Mumbai of today: financial capital
of the    nation. It woke as usual on 12th March, 1993. People
started for  their places  of work  not knowing     what was in
their store.  The terrorists  and/or disruptionists, bent on
breaking the backbone of the  nation (for reasons which need
not be    gone into)  had, however,  hatched a  well  laid-out
conspiracy  to    cripple     the  country  by  striking  at     its
financial nerve.  As Bombay  set down  to work,     blasting of
bombs,    almost     simultaneously,  took    place  at  important
centres of  commercial actvities  like Stock  Exchange,     Air
India, Zaveri  Bazar, Katha Bazar and many luxurious hotels.
A shocked Bombay and a stunned nation first tried to provide
succour to the victim as much as possible and then wanted to
know the  magnitude of    the loss  of life  and property.  It
surpassed all  imagination, as    it was ultimately found that
the blasts  left more than 250 persons dead, 730 injured and
property worth    about Rs.27 crores destroyed. By all counts,
it was    thus a    great tragedy; and revolting also, as it was
2.   All right    thinking  persons  and    wellwishers  of     the
nation started asking; Why it happened ? How could it happen
? We  are not  concerned in  these ceses  with why, but with
how. The  gigantic  task  led  Bombay  police,    despite     its
capability, to    seek assistance     of the     CBI. An arduous and
painstaking investigation  by a     team of dedicated officials
showed that  the aforesaid bomb blasts were a result of deep
rooted conspiracy concerted action of many, guided either by
greed or vengeance. The finale of investigation consisted in
charge-sheeting 145  persons  (of  whom     38  were  shown  as
absconders) under various sections of the Penal Code and the
Terrorists And    Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987
(TADA), hereinafter  the  Act  also.  The  Designated  Court
constituted under  Section 9 of the Act came to be seized of
the matter  and by  its impugned  order of  10.9.1995 it has
framed charges    against 127  persons, discharing at the same
time 26.  One died and two became approvers. (The total thus
comes to 146)
3.   Of the  charged accused,  four: (1)  Abu Asim Azmi; (2)
Amjad Aziz  Meharbaksh; (3)  Raju alias     Raju Code Jain; and
(4) Somnath  Thapa have     approached this  Court having    felt
aggrieved at  their having not been discharged. The State of
Maharashtra has approached the Court seeking cancellation of
bail granted to appellant Thapa.
4.   We were  fortunate to  have leading criminal lawyers of
the country to assist us in the matter in asmuch as Shri Ram
Jethmalani appeared  for Raju  and Moolchand,  Shri Ratinder
Singh for  Abu Azim  Azmi, Shri     R.K. Jain for Amzad Ali and
Shri  Shirodkar      for  appellant   Thapa.  The     State     was
represented by    Addl. Solicitor     General,  Shri     KTS  Tulsi.
Lengthy arguments  were advanced  by the  learned counsel to
sustain the  stands taken  by them.  We put  on     record     our
appreciation for the able assistance rendered by all.
5. The appeals call for examination of three questions of
law. These are:
(a) What  are the  ingredients of  "criminal conspiracy'  as
defined in Section 120-A o the Penal Code ?
(b) When can charge be framed ?
(c) What is the effect of repeal of TADA ?
     After understanding  and explaining the legal position,
we would  examine the  cases of     individual  appellants     and
would see  whether any of them deserves to be discharged. We
would then  express our view whether bail of Thapa has to be
cancelled and whether Moolchand has to be released on bail.
Essential ingredients of criminal conspiracy:
7. It  would be     apposite to  note  at    the  threshold    that
sections 120-A    and 120-B,  which are  the two    sections  in
Chapter V - A of the Code, came to be introduced by Criminal
Law Amendment  Act of  1913. The  Statement of    Objects     and
Reasons stated    that a    need was  felt for  the same to make
conspiracy a substantive offence. In doing so the common law
of England was borne in mind.
8. Section 120-A defines criminal conspiracy as below:
     "120-A.  Definition   of    criminal
     conspiracy:-  When      two  or   more
     persons agree to do, or cause to be
     (1) an illegal act, or
     (2) an  act which is not illegal by
     illegal means, such an agreement is
     designated a criminal conspiracy:
      Provided  that   no  agreement
     except an    agreement to  commit  an
     offence shall  amount to a criminal
     conspiracy unless    some act besides
     the agreement  is done  by     one  or
     more parties  to such  agreement in
     pursuance thereof.
     Explanation:-  It     is   immaterial
     whether  the  illegal  act     is  the
     ultimate object  of such agreement,
     or is  merely  incidental    to  that
9. This     definition shows that conspiracy consists in either
doing an  illegal act  or a legal act by illegal means. Shri
Tulsi emphasised  that we should bear in mind the illegality
of means as well. Group action being apparently involved, it
was urged  that division  of performances  in the  chain  of
actions as  happens in smuggling of narcotics should also be
taken note  of by  us. The  Addl. Solicitor  General was  at
pains in  contending that protection of the society from the
dangers of concerted criminal activity may not be lost sight
of by us.
10. Shri Ram Jethmalani, who addressed us principally on the
questions of  law involved,  filed a compilation of relevant
decisions  for     our   benefits,   wherein   the   essential
ingredients of    criminal conspiracy have been spelt out. The
decisions mainly  relied by  the learned  counsel are R. vs.
Hawkesley, 1959     Criminal Law  Report 210;  and     People     vs.
Lauria, 251  California Appeal    2d 471.     Some assistance  is
derived     from    a  judgment   of  this    Court  in  Natwarlal
Shankarlal Mody     vs. State of Bombay, 1961 Bomboy Law Report
661. The only other foreign decision we would be required to
note is     United States    vs. Feola 420 US 671, referred to on
behalf of the State. We would finally see what was held by a
two Judge  Bench of this Court in Ajay Aggarwal vs. Union of
India, 1993 (3) SCC 609 strongly relied on by Shri Tulsi.
11. The     thrust of Shri Ram Jethmalani's argument is that to
find a person quilty of conspiracy there has to be knowledge
of either  commission of any illegal act by a co-conspirator
or taking  recourse to    illegal means by the co-conspirator,
along  with  the  intent  to  further  the  illegal  act  or
facilitate the    illegal     means.     Though     at  one  stage     the
learned Addl.  Solicitor  General  sought  to  contend    that
knowledge by  itself would be enough, he, on deeper thought,
accepted that this would not be. But then, according to him,
at times  intent may  be inferred  from knowledge, specially
when no     legitimate use of the goods or services in question
exists. To  sustain  this  submission,    he  also  relied  on
Lauria's case.    He has    added a     rider as  well. The same is
that so far as knowledge is concerned, the prosecution, in a
case of     present nature     cannot be  called upon to establish
that  the  conspirator    had  knowledge    that  the  goods  in
question would be used for blasting of bombs at Bombay. This
follows, according to the Addl. Solicitor, from the decision
of the United States Supreme Court in Fegla.
12. Let     us first  see what was held in Hawkesley. The facts
of that     case are that the accused was a partner with Z in a
small taxi  business. A     and B,     two  young  men  with    some
previous criminal  record, who    were fairly  well known to Z
but less well known to the prisoner, H, persuaded H to drive
them on     credit from  the taxi    office in  the centre of the
city at     about 12.25  a.m. a distance of about five miles to
the outskirts of the city. H did not know that either A or B
had criminal records. On the journey A and B informed H that
the purpose  of the journey was to break into a golf club. H
dropped A  and B  near the  golf club  and a  police officer
overheard one  of them    say, "We will want you back in about
an hour".  H never  did return to the golf club but returned
to the    city where  he drove some other fares which had been
previously booked  after which    he went home taking his taxi
with him.
     A and  B ran away from the golf club on being disturbed
be the police and were later arrested together. A and B were
charged     with    being  in   possession     of   house-breaking
implements by  night and  A,  B     and  H     were  charged    with
conspiracy to  break and  enter the  club. A  and B  pleaded
"guilty" to  both counts  and H     pleaded "not quilty" to the
count of  conspiracy against him. When A end B were arrested
a torch     which was  usually kept  in the  taxi was  found in
their possession.  H made  a  statement     to  the  police  in
writing in  which he said that on the journey he learnt that
A and B were "Going to do the club".
13. The evidence as to how a torch came into possession of A
and B  was conflicting.     There    was  no     evidence  that     the
accused knew,  until the journey in the taxi had begun, that
A and B intended to commit a criminal offence or that he had
any reason  to suspect    that they intended to do so. It was,
therefore, held     that there was no evidence as to conspiracy
because of  lack of  evidence that  the accused     and A and B
were acting  in concert     or had     agreed together to commit a
criminal offence.  It is  brought to  our notice  that    this
Court in  Natwar Lal's    case  (supra)  had  also  held    that
knowledge of  conspiracy is  necessary as  appears from what
was stated  at page  667 of  the  Report.  Shri     Jethmalani,
therefore, submits  that mere  knowledge that somebody would
commit an  offence would  not be  sufficient to     establish a
case of     criminal conspiracy,  unless there  be evidence  to
show that all had acted in concert or had agreed together to
commit the offence in question.
14.  The discussion  in Lauria    is more     illumnating and its
importance lies in the fact that learned counsel of both the
sides have  sought  to    place  reliance     on  this  decision.
Fleming, J.,  who decided  the case, was confronted with two
leading cases of the United States Supreme Court pointing in
opposits directions  - one  was that  of United     States     vs.
Falcne, 311  US 205  wherein sellers  of large quantities of
sugaryeast and    canes were  absolved from participation in a
consipracy among distillelrs who bought from them. In Direct
Sales Co.,  vs.     United     States,  319  US  703,     however,  a
wholesaler of  drugs was  convicted of conspiracy to violate
the federal  narcotic laws by selling drugs in quantity to a
co-assused physician  who was supplying them to addicts. The
distinction between these two cases appeared primarily based
on the    proposition  that  distributors     of  such  dangerous
products  as   drugs  are   required  to   exercise  greater
discrimination    in   conduct  of  their     business  than     are
distributors of     innocuuous substances like sugar and yeast.
Fleming,  J.,    therefore,  observed  that  in    Falcone     the
seller's knowledge  of the  illegal use     of  the  goods     was
insufficient by     itself use of the goods was insufficient by
itself to  make the  seller privy  to a     conspiracy with the
distillers who    bought from  them, whereas  in Direct Sales,
the  conviction     was  affirmed    on  showing  that  the    drug
wholesaler  had     atively  promoted  the     sale  of  the    drug
(morphine sulphate)  in quantity and had sold that same to a
physician who practised in a small town - the quantity being
300 times more than the normal requirement of the drug.
15.  The following quotations in Lauria from the decision in
Direct Sales is very pertinent :
     "All articles  of commerce     may  be
     put to illegal ends,...............
     But all  do not have inherently the
     same susceptibility  to harmful and
     illegal use.......     This difference
     is important  for two purposes. One
     is     for  making  certain  that  the
     seller knows  the buyer's    intended
     illegal use.  The other  is to show
     that by  the  sale     he  intends  to
     further, promote  and cooperate  in
     it. This  intent, when given effect
     by     over    act,  is   the    gist  of
     conspiracy.   While   it    is   not
     identical with  mere knowledge that
     another proposes  unlawful     action,
     it     is   not  uprelated   to   such
     knowledge.......... The  step  from
     knowledge to  intent and  agreement
     may be  taken. There  is more  than
     suspicion,     more    than  knowledge,
     acquiescence,       carelessness,
     indifference, lack of conern. There
     is     informed   and     interested  co-
     operations            stimulations
16. The learned Judge, after examining they precedent in the
fields thereafter  held that  sometimes, but not always, the
criminal intent     may be     inferred from    the knowledge of the
accused of  the unlawful  use made of the goods in question.
He gave     two illustrations to bring home the  point, one  of
which    is  that    the     intent       may      be  inferred    from
knowledge, when      no  legitimate   use     for   the goods  or
services exists.   Being  of   this view,  Fleming , J. held
that   the respondent    before him (Lauria) had knowledge of
the-criminal   activities of  the prostitutes,    end the same
was sufficient    to charge  him with  that fact,     even though
what Lauria  had manifestly tone was allowing them, who were
actively plying     their trade,  to  use    his  telephone.     The
prosecution  in      that    case   Sad  attempted  to  establish
conspiracy by  showing that  Lauria was     well aware that his
co-defendants were  prostitutes, who  had received  business
calls  from   customers     through   his    telephone  answering
service, despite which Lauria continued to furnish them with
such  service.     This  action  of  Lauria  was    regarded  as
sufficient to hold that he had conspired with the prostitute
to further their criminal activity.
17. The     Additional Solicitor  General has, according to us.
stolen a  march over  the counsel for the accused because of
what was stated in Lauria's case, as he is undoubtedly right
in submitting  that RDX, or for that matter bombs, cannot be
put to    any legitimate use but only to illegitimate use; and
it is  RDX or  bomb which  was either  handled or allowed to
slip by     the accused before us. So, this act by itself would
establish the  intent to  use  the  goods  for    illegitimate
18. Another  decision to  come    tn  the     assistance  of     the
prosecution is    Feola. This  decision of  the United  States
Supreme Court  is important  because the  presented in    that
case was  whether  knowledge  that  intended  victim  was  a
federal officer     essential  establish  crime  of  conspiracy
under the  relevant provision  which made  an assault upon a
federal Of  while engaged in the performance of his official
duties, an  offence. Justice Blackmun, who delivered opinion
far the majority, held that in so far substantial offence is
concerned,  to     answer     question  of  individual  guilt  or
innocence, awareness  the official  identity of     the assault
victim irrelevant.  It was  then observed  that the same has
obtain with respect to conspiracy.
19.  What  had    happened  in  Feola  was  that    he  and     his
confederates had  arranged for sale of heroin to buyers, who
turned     out to      be  undercover   agents for  the Bureau of
Narcotic and  Dangerous Drugs. The planning of the group was
to palm off on the purchasers, for a substantial sum, a form
of sugar  in place  of heroin  and, should  that ruse  fail,
simply to  surprise their  unwitting buyers and relieve them
of the    cash they  had brought    along for  payment. The plan
failed when one agent on a suspicion being aroused, drew his
revolver in  time to  counter an  assault upon another agent
from the  rear. So, instead of enjoying the rich benefits of
a  successful    swindle,  Feola     and  his  associates  found
themselves  charged,   to  their  undoubted  surprise,    with
conspiring to assault and assaulting federal officers.
20. The     plea taken by Feola was that he had no knowledge of
the victim's official identity and as such he could not have
been guilty  of conspiracy charge. The Court was, therefore,
first required    to find     out  whether  for  the     substantive
offence     of  charge  envisaged    by  the     punishing  section,
awareness  of  the  official  identity    of  the     victim     was
relevant;  and     the  majority     answered  the    question  in
negative, because  the offence    consisted  in  assaulting  a
federal officer     on  duty;  and     undoubtedly  there  was  an
assault and  the victim     was a    federal officer on duty. The
further step  which the     majority  took,  and  with  respect
rightly, was that the same logic would apply with respect to
conspiracy offence.
21. The     Additional Solicitor  General has thus a point when
he contended  that to  establish the charge of conspiracy in
the present  case, it  would not  be necessary    to establish
that the  accused knew    that the  RDX and/or  bomb  was/were
meant to  be used  for bomb blast at Bombay, so Long as they
knew that  the material     would be used for bomb blast in any
part of the country.
22. As    in the    present case  the bomb blast was a result of
chain  of   actions,  it  is  contended     on  behalf  of     the
prosecution, on     the strength  of this    Court's decision  in
Yash Pal  Mittal vs. State of Punjab 1977 (4) SCC 540, which
was noted  in para  9 of Ajay Aggarwal's case that of such a
situation there may be division of performances by plurality
of means  sometimes even  unknown to  one  another;  and  in
achieving the  goal several offences may be committed by the
conspirators even  unknown to  the committed.  All  that  is
relevant is  that all  means adopted  and illegal  acts done
must be     and purported to be in furtherance of the object of
the conspiracy,     even though  there may be sometimes misfire
or over-shooting by some of the conspirators.
23.     Our attention    is pointedly  invited by  Shri Tulsi
to what     was   stated in   para     24 of    Ajay Aggarwal's case
wherein Ramaswamy,  J.     stated that   the law has developed
several or different  models  or  technique  to     broach     the
scope    of conspiracy. One  such model    is that     of a chain,
where each  party performs   even  without  knowledge of the
other,    a   role  that     aids      succeeding  parties      in
accomplishing the  criminal objectives    of   the conspiracy.
The illustration   given   was what is    done in     the process
of procuring  and distributing    narcotics  or     an  illegal
foreign drug  for sale in different parts of  the globe.  In
such   a case,     smugglers.  Middleman privies    to  a single
conspiracy to     smuggle  and     distribute  narcotics.     The
smugglers know     that  the middlemen  must sell to retailers
and the     retailers know     that the  middlemen must  buy    from
importers. Thus     the conspirators  at one  end at  the chain
know   that the     unlawful business would not, and could not,
stop with their buyers, and those at the other end know that
it   had not  begun with settlers. The action of each has to
be  considered as  a spoke in the hub - there being a rim to
bind all the spokes together in a single conspiracy.
24. The aforesaid decisions, weighty as they are, lead us to
conclude that  to establish a charge of conspiracy knowledge
about indulgence  in either an illegal act or a legal act by
illegal     means    is  necessary.    In  some  cases,  intent  of
unlawful use being made of the goods or services in question
may be    inferred from  the knowledge itself. This apart, the
prosecution has     not to establish that a particular unlawful
use was     intended, so  long  as     the  goods  or     service  in
question could    not be    put to any lawful use. Finally, when
the ultimate  offence consists    of a  chain of    actions,  it
would not  be necessary for the prosecution to establish, to
bring home  the charge    of  conspiracy,     that  each  of     the
conspirators had  the knowledge     of  what  the    collaborator
would do, so long as it is known that the collaborator would
put the goods or service to an unlawful use.
        When can charge be framed ?
25. This  legal question  is not as knotty as the first one.
This is for the reason that there are clinching decisions of
this Court on this aspect of the matter.
26.  Shri   Ram     Jethmalani  has  urged     that  despite    some
variation in  the language of three pairs of sections, which
deal with  the question     of framing  of charge or discharge,
being relatable     to either  a sessions    trial  or  trial  of
warrant case  or summons  case,     ultimately  converge  to  a
single conclusion,  namely, that  a prima facie case must be
made out  before charge     can be     framed. This  is  what     was
stated by a two-Judge Bench in R.S. Naik vs. A. Antulay 1986
(2) SCC 716.
27. Let     us note the three pairs of sections Shri Jethmalani
has in    mind. These  are sections  227 and  228 An so far as
sessions trial    is concerned; sections 239 and 240 relatable
to trial  of warrant  Cases; and  sections 245    and (2)     qua
trial of summons cases. They read as below:
     "Section 227:  Discharge - If, upon
     consideration of  the record of the
     case and  the  documents  submitted
     therein,  and   after  hearing  the
     submissions of  the accused and the
     prosecution  in  this  behalf,  the
     Judge considers  that there  is not
     sufficient     ground     for  proceeding
     against  the   accused,  he   shall
     discharge the  accused  and  record
     his reasons for so doing.
     Section 228:  Framing of  Charge  -
     (i) If,  after  such  consideration
     and hearing as aforesaid, the Judge
     is of  opinion that there is ground
     for presuming  that the accused has
     committed an offence which
      (a)  is      not   exclusively
     triable by     the Court   of Session,
     he may  frame a charge  against the
     accused and,  by order,    transfer
     the   case      for trial    to   the
     Chief    Judicial          Magistrate
     and   thereupon the  Chief Judicial
     Magistrate      shall try  the offence
     in          accordance     with    the
     procedure    for  trial  of    warrant-
     cases  instituted     on   a      police
      (b) is  exclusively  trial  by
     the  Court,  he    shall  frame  in
     writing  a      charge   against   the
      (2)  Where  the  Judge  frames
     any charge     under     clause     (b)  of
     sub-section (1),  the charge  shall
     be read  and   explained  to    the
     accused and   the     accused   shall
     be        asked  whether  he      pleads
     guilty  of     the offence charged  or
     claims  to     be tried.
             (Emphasis supplied)
     Section 239:  When accused shall be
     discharged -  If, upon  considering
     the police     report and the document
     sent with    it under Section 173 and
     making such examination, if any, of
     the  accused   as    the   Magistrate
     thinks necessary  and after  giving
     the prosecution  and the accused an
     opportunity of  being  heard,  the
     Magistrate     considers   the  charge
     against   the    accused    to    be
     groundless, he  shall discharge the
     accused, and record his reasons for
     so doing.
     Section 240: Framing of charges if,
     upon      such      consideration,
     examination, if  any,  and     hearing
     the Magistrate  is of  opinion that
     there is  ground for presuming that
     the  accused   has      committed   an
     offence triable under this Chapter,
     which such     Magistrate is competent
     to try  and which,     in his opinion,
     could  be    adequately  punished  by
     him, he  shall frame  in writing  a
     charge against the accused
     (2) The  charge shall  then be read
     and explained  to the  accused, and
     he shall be asked whether he pleads
     guilty of    the offence  charged  or
     claims to be tried.
     Section 245:  When accused shall be
     discharged-(1) If,     upon taking all
     the evidence referred to in Section
     244, the  Magistrate considers, for
     reasons to     be  recorded,    that  no
     case against  the accused    has been
     made  cut     which,     if  unrebutted,
     would warrant  his conviction,  the
     Magistrate shall discharge him.
     (2) Nothing  in this  section shall
     to deemed    to prevent  a Magistrate
     from discharging  the accused at any
     previous stage  of the case if, for
     reasons  to  be  recorded    by  such
     Magistrate, he considers the charge
     to be groundless."
     Before adverting  to what was stated in Antulay's case,
let  the  view    expressed  in  State  of  Karnataka  vs.  L.
Muniswamy),  1977     (3)   SCR     113   be  noted.   Therein,
Chandrachud, J. (as he then was) speaking fore a three Judge
Bench stated  at page    119  that   at the  stage of framing
charge the  Court has  to   apply its    mind to the question
whether or  not     there    is  any     ground     for  presuming     the
commission of  the offence  by the  accused. As     framing  of
charge affects    a person's  liberty substantially, need     for
proper     consideration     of   material warranting such order
was emphasised.
29. What  was stated  in  this    regard    in  Street  Atyachar
Virodhi Parishad's  case. Which     was quoted with approval in
paragraph 76  of State of west Bengal vs. Mohd. Khalid, 1995
(1)SCC 684  is    that  what  the     Court    has  to     see,  while
considering the     question of  framing the charge, is whether
the material  brought on record would reasonably connect the
accused with  the crime.  No more is required to be inquired
30. In    Antulay's case,     Bhagwati, CJ., opined, after noting
the difference    in  the     language  of  the  three  pairs  of
section, that  despite the  difference there is no scope for
doubt that  at the  stage at  which the Court is required to
consider the  question of  framing of  charge, the  test  of
"prima facie"  case has     to be    applied. According  to    Shri
Jethmalani, a  prima facie  case even  be said    to have been
made out  when the evidence, unless rebutted, would make the
accused liable    to  conviction.     In  our  view,     better     and
clearer statement  of law  would be  that if there is ground
for presuming  that the accused has committed the offence, a
court can  justifiably say  that a  prima facie case against
him exists,  and so, frame charge against him for committing
that offence".
31. Let     us note  the meaning  of  the    word  "presume".  In
Black's Law  Dictionary it  has been  defined  to  mean     "to
believe or  accept upon probable evidence". (Emphasis ours).
In Shorter  Oxford English Dictionary it has been  mentioned
that in     law  "presume"     means    "to  take  as  proved  until
evidence to  the contrary  is forthcoming"  , Stroud's Legal
Dictionary has    quoted in  this context     a certain judgement
according to  which "A presumption is a probable consequence
drawn  from  facts  (either  certain  or  proved  by  direct
testimony) as  to the  truth of     a fact     alleged." (Emphasis
supplied). In  Law Lexicon  by P.  Ramanath Aiyer  the    same
quotation finds place at page 1007 of 1987 edition.
32   The aforesaid  shows that    if on the basis of materials
on record,  a  court  could  come  to  the  conclusion    that
commission of  the offence is a probable consequence, a case
for framing  of charge exists. To put it differently, if the
Court were  to think  that the    accused might have committed
the offence  it can  frame the charge, though for conviction
the conclusion    is required  to     be  that  the    accused     has
committed the  offence. It  is apparent that at the stage of
framing of  charge, probative  value  of  the  materials  on
record cannot  be gone into; the materials brought on record
by the prosecution has to be accepted as true at that stage.
       What is the effect of lapse of TADA ?
33.  In the written submissions filed on behalf of appellant
Moolchand, it  has  been  urged     that  TADA  having  lapsed,
section 1(4)  which saves,  inter  alia,  any  investigation
instituted before the Act had expired, itself lapsed because
of which it is not open to the prosecution to place reliance
on this     sub-section to continue the proceeding after expiry
of TADA.
34.  We find  no force in the aforesaid submission and would
refer in  this connection  to  a  recent  three-Judge  Bench
decision  of   this  Court  in    Mohd.  Iqbal  Vs.  State  of
Mahasrashtra, JT  1996 (1)  SC 114,  in which  it  has    been
clearly held  that in  view of    section 1(4) of the Act, the
farmers of  the Act  had desired that even after its expiry,
the proceeding initiated under the Act should not come to an
end without  the final    conclusion and    determination, which
have, therefore,  to be     continued in spite of the expiry of
the Act.  According to    the Bench,  there is indeed no scope
for a  controversy as to whether any investigation, inquiry,
trial in  respect of  any offence  alleged under  TADA shall
come to     end as     subsection (4)     of section (1) protects and
keeps alive such investigation and trial.
35. The     Legal question     having been examined, we may advert
to the    facts of  each appellant  to decide  whether a prima
facie case  against him exists, requiring framing of charge,
as has    been ordered.  Before we undertake this exercise, it
may be    pointed out that the learned Designated Court in his
impugned judgment,  instead of    examining the  merits of the
prosecution case  qua the charged accused, has given reasons
as to  why  he    discharged  26    accused.  A  grievance    has,
therefore, been     made by  all the  learned counsel appearing
for the     accused that  this was not the legal approach to be
adopted. We  find merit     in this  grievance inasmuch  as the
impugned order    ought to  have shown  that the      Designated
Court applied  its judicial  mind to the materials placed on
record against    the  charged  accused.    This  was  necessary
because framing     of charge substantially affects the liberty
of the    concerned person.  Because of  the large  number  of
accused in the case  (and this number being large as regards
charged accused     also), the  court below  might have adopted
the approach  he had  done. But we do not think it was right
in doing  so. Be  that as  it may,  now that  we  have    been
apprised by  the prosecution  regarding     all  the  materials
which were  placed before  the Designated Court against each
of the    appealing accused, we propose to examine, whether on
the basis  of such materials, it can reasonably be held that
a case    of charge exists. We would do so separately for each
of the appellants.
36.  At this  stage, it     may be     pointed out  that the trial
court has,  apart from    framing individual  charge, framed a
general charge.     Which, after  naming all  the    127  charged
accused, reads as under :
     "During the  period from  December,
     1992 to   April,  1993   at various
     places in    Bombay,     District Raigad
     and District  Thane  in  India  and
     outside  India  in     Dubai    (U.A.E.)
     Pakistan, entered     into a criminal
     conspiracy and/or    were members  of
     the said  criminal conspiracy whose
     object was to commit Terrorist Acts
     in India and that you all agreed to
     commit   following      illegal   acts
     namely  to     commit     terrorist  acts
     with  an    intent    to  overawe  the
     Government as  by Law  established,
     to strike     terror     in the     people,
     to alienate sections of the people,
     to     adversely  affect  the     harmony
     amongst different    sections of  the
     people i.e.  Hindus and  Muslims by
     using bombs, dynamites handgranades
     and  other      explosives  substances
     like RDX  or inflammable substances
     or     fire-arms  like  AK-56     rifles,
     Carbines,    Pistols and other lethal
     weapons in     such  a  manner  as  to
     cause or  as likely  to cause death
     of or  injuries to     any  person  or
     persons, loss  of,     damage     to  and
     destruction of  private and  public
     properties      and     disruption   of
     supplies of  services essential  to
     the life  of the  community, and to
     achieve  the   objectives    of   the
     conspiracy,  you    all  agreed   to
     smuggle   fire-arms,    ammunition,
     detonators     handgranades  and  high
     explosives like  RDX into India and
     to     distribute   the  same     amongst
     yourselves      and     your    men   of
     confidence     for   the  purpose   of
     committing terrorist  acts and  for
     the said  purpose    to  conceal  and
     store all these arms ammunition and
     explosives at  such safe places and
     amongst yourselves     and  with  your
     men of  confidence till its use for
     committing      terrorist   acts   and
     achieving the  objects of    criminal
     conspiracy and  to dispose     off the
     same   as need  arises. To organise
     training camps  in Pakistan  and in
     India to  import and undergo weapon
     training  in  Handling    of  arms,
     ammunitions   and     explosives   to
     commit terrorist  acts. To     harbour
     and     conceal      terrorists/co-
     conspirators, and also to aid, abet
     and   knowingly    facilitate   the
     terrorist    acts    and/or    any  act
     preparatory to  the  commission  of
     terrorist acts  and to  render  any
     assistance financial  or  otherwise
     for accomplishing the object of the
     conspiracy     to   commit   terrorist
     acts,   to do  and commit any other
     illegal acts  as were necessary for
     achieving the  aforesaid objectives
     of      the  criminal     conspiracy  and
     that on  12.3.1993 were  successful
     in causing bomb explosions at Stock
     Exchange    Building,    Air   India
     Building,      Hotel       Centaur    at
     Santacruz,     Zaveri      Bazar,   katha
     Bazar, Century  Bazar    at  Worli,
     Petrol  Pump  adjoining  Shiv  Sena
     Bhavan,  Plaza   Theatre    and   in
     lobbing   handgranades at Macchimar
     Hindu Colony,  Mahim and at Bay-52,
     Sahar International  Airport  which
     left more    than 257  persons  dead,
     713  injured   and     property  worth
     about Rs.    27.0  Crores  destroyed,
     And   attempted   to   cause   Bomb
     explosions at  Naigaum  Cross  Road
     and Dhanji     Street, all in the city
     of     Bombay     and  its  suburbs  i.e.
     within Greater Bombay.
      And thereby committed offences
     punishable under  Section    3(3)  of
     TADA (P)  Act, 1987 and Section 120
     (B) of  Indian Penal Code read with
     Sections 3(2)  (i),    (ii),  3(3),
     3(4), 5 and 6 of TADA (P) Act, 1987
     and read  with Sections  302,  307,
     326, 324,    427, 435,  436, 201  and
     212  of   Indian  Penal   Code  and
     offences under   Section  3  and  7
     read with    Section 25  (1A),  (1B),
     (a) of  the Arms Act, 1959, Section
     9-B(1),  (a),   (b),  (c)     of  the
     Explosives Act,  1884.  Section  3,
     4(a), (b), 5 and 6 of the Explosive
     Substances Act,  1908 and Section 4
     of Prevention  of Damage  to Public
     Property Act,  1984 and  within  my
        Abu Asim Azmi
37.  The specific  charge relating  to this  appellant is as
below :
     "In addition  to Charge  First  you
     accused  Abu   Asim  Azmi    is  also
     charged for  having  committed  the
     following offences     in pursuance of
     the criminal  conspiracy in  Charge
      SECONDLY  that  you  Abu  Asim
     Azmi in  pursuance of the aforesaid
     criminal     conspiracy    conspired
     advocate    advised       abetted   and
     knowingly        facilitated         the
     commission of  terrorists     act and
     acts preparatory  to terrorists act
     i.e. bomb    blast and such other act
     which were     committed in Bombay and
     its suburbs  on 12.3.93 by agreeing
     to do  any by  doing the  following
     overt acts.
     (a)   That     you sent  Sultan-E-Rome
     Ali  Gul,     Mohmed     Iqbal    Ibrahim,
     Shakeel Ahmed,  Shah Nawaz Khan s/o
     Faiz  Mohmed   Khan,  Abdul   Aziz,
     Manzoor   Ahmed   Mohmed    Qureshi,
     Shaikh Mohmed  Ethesham and  Mohmed
     Shahid   Nizamuddin   Qureshi,   to
     undergo weapon training at Pakistan
     in furtherance of the objectives of
     the aforesaid  criminal  conspiracy
     by booking     their    tickets     out  of
     your own  funds through  M/s.  Hans
     Air Services which was done by your
     firm M/s.    Abu Travels and that you
     thereby   committed    an     offence
     punishable under  section    3(3)  of
     TADA (P)  Act, 1987  and within  my
38.  The aforesaid  shows that the individual charge against
bu is that he had done the act of booking the tickets of the
persons named  in the charge; and this was done from his own
funds through M/s. Hans.Air Services. Learned Addl.Solicitor
General     states      that    the  financial    assistance  by    this
appellant would attract the mischief of Section 3(3) of TADA
which, inter  alia, punishes  abetment of  a terrorist    act.
This would  be so  because of  the  enlarged  definition  of
"abet" as  given in  section 2    (1) (a),  whose clause (iii)
makes rendering     of any     assistance,  whether  financial  or
otherwise, to a terrorist, an act of abetment. Our attention
is also     invited to section 21(2) which has provided that in
a prosecution  for an offence under section 3(3) of the Act,
if it  is proved  that the  accused rendered  any, financial
assistance to  a person     accused of, or reasonably suspected
of, an    offence under  that section,  the  Designated  Court
shall presume,    unless the  contrary is     proved,  that    such
person has committee of the offence under that provision.
39. Shri  Rajinder Singh,  appearing for this appellant, did
not consider  it necessary  to contest    the aforesaid  legal
position. His  sole contention    is that the materials sought
to be  relied on by the prosecution in alleging that Abu had
booked tickets    out of    his own funds, which is the gravamen
of the    charge, has  no legs  to stand inasmuch as there are
materials galore  to show  that the  fund for booking the 11
air tickets  for Dubai    had come,  not from  the fund of the
appellant, but the money had been made available to the firm
of the    appellant, named  Abu Travel  Agency, by one Maulana
Bukhari about  which Shamim  Ahmed working as cashier in the
firm has stated. His statement during investigation was that
on 21.1.1993  two persons  had come to his office and handed
over a sum of Rs.1.15 lacs along with 11 passports by saying
"Bukhari Saheb    Ne Bheja  Hai"(Bukhari Saheb has sent). This
was pursuant to the talk Shamim earlier had with Bukhari who
had inquired  as to  whether the firm of the appellant could
arrange for  11 air  tickets to Dubai, which was answered in
affirmative.  The   firm  of  M/s.  Hans  Air  Services     was
thereafter contacted  and a  sum of Rs. 38.000/- was paid in
cash by     the appellant and Rs. 73,000/- through drafts whose
numbers      are on  record. It,  however,     happened  that     one
ticket had to be cancelled on 11.3.1993; and because of this
an amount  of Rs.9,939/-  was credited    in  the     account  of
appellant's firm  in the books of M/s. Hans Air Services. It
is really  this entry which has been pressed into service by
Shri Tulsi  to contend    that the  money for  the journey had
really been paid by the appellant's firm.
40. According  to Shri Rajinder Singh, the fact of aforesaid
credit was  not brought     to the     notice of  the     appellant's
firm. Then,  as the  bomb blasts took place an the next date
i.e. 12th  March  and  as  Bukhari  was     shot  dead  in     the
meantime, the money could not have been returned to Bukhari.
It is,    therefore,  urged  that     -  the     mere  fact  of     the
aforesaid amount  having been  credited in  the name  of the
appellant's firm  in the  books of  M/s. Hans  Air  Services
cannot at all suggest, in view of the aforesaid statement of
Shamim, which  wag duly     corroborated by  Iftikhar, who     was
working at the relevant time as a clerk in M/s. Abu Travels,
that the  air journey of the 11 persons was financed by this
appellant. The    learned counsel     has also  submitted that as
the Bombay  Police had not asked Shamim during interrogation
about the  source of  money which  had been paid to Hans Air
Services, Shamim had made no statement regarding that, which
he had    subsequently made  when interrogated  by the  C.B.I.
Another contention  to be  advanced is that if the action of
booking the  tickets in     question would     have been a part of
tainted activity, the sum of Rs.73,000/- would not have been
transmitted to Hans Air Services through drafts.
41. Though  it appears intriguing as to why only part of the
money was  sent through     bank and  that too by more than one
draft, the  aforesaid facts  brought to     our notice  by Shri
Rajender Singh do show that the only incriminating material,
namely, crediting the amount of Rs.9,939/- in the account of
the appellants'     firm in the books of M/s Hans Air Services,
is a  weak circumstance to say that the appellant might have
abetted the  offences in  question, which is the real charge
against him.  We may state that as framing of charge affects
a  person's   liberty  substantially,    as  pointed  out  in
Muniswamy's case  (supra),  the     materials  on    record    must
satisfy the  mind of  the Court     framing the charge that the
commission  of    offence     by  the  accused  in  question     was
probable. We do not think if a conclusion can
reasonably be  drawn only from the above-noted incriminating
fact pressed  into  service  by     the  prosecution  that     the
appellant might have abetted the offences in question. There
being no  material to  frame individual charge under section
3(3) of     TADA, we are of the opinion that the general charge
qua this  appellant has     also to fail, as the only overt act
attributed to  him is  the  aforesaid  activity     of  booking
42.  We, therefore,  allow the    appeal    of  this  appellant,
which arises out of SLP(Crl.) No.3305 of 1995, and order for
his discharge.
           Amjad Aziz Meharbaksh
43. The     individual charge  against with  appellant reads as
below :
     "In addition  to Charge  First. you
     Amjad Abdul  Aziz Meherbux     is also
     charged for  having  committed  the
     following offences     in pursuance to
     the criminal  conspiracy -described
     in Charge First :-
      SECONDLY  :-    that  you  Amjad
     Abdul Aziz Meherbux in pursuance of
     the aforesaid  criminal  conspiracy
     and during the period January, 1993
     to      February,    1993    knowingly
     facilitated   the     commission   of
     terrorist act  and acts preparatory
     to terrorist  act i.e.  bomb  blast
     and  such    other  acts  which  were
     committed in Bombay and its suburbs
     on 12.3.1993 by doing the following
     overt acts :-
      That you  permitted  your  co-
     accused Yakoob Abdul Razak Memon to
     park  motor   vehicles  laden  with
     arms,  ammunition     and  explosives
     which were     part of the consignment
     smuggled  into   the  country   for
     committing terrorist act by Mushtaq
     @ Ibrahim @ Tiger Abdul Razak Memon
     and his associates and were brought
     to     your    premises  by  co-accused
     Abdul Gani Ismail Turq, Asgar Yusuf
     Mukadam and  Rafiq     Madi  and  also
     handed over  suit cases  containing
     hand  granades  and  detonators  to
     your co-accused  Altaf  Ali  Mustaq
     Sayed at  the  instance  of  Yakoob
     Abdul Razak  Memon and  thereby you
     committed    an   offence  punishable
     under section 3(3) of TADA (P) Act,
     1987 and within my cognizance.
      THIRDLY  :-    That  you  Amjad
     Abdul Aziz Meherbux in pursuance of
     the aforesaid  criminal  conspiracy
     and  during   the    period    3.2.1993
     onwards when  arms, ammunition  and
     explosives were  smuggled into  the
     country  for  committing  terrorist
     act  by   Tiger   Memon   and   his
     associates were  in  possession  of
     part of  the consignment i.e, arms,
     ammunition,    handgranades     and
     explosives which  were  brought  in
     motor  vehicles   and  which   were
     parked  in     your  compound     at  the
     instance of  your co-accused Yakoob
     Abdul Razak  Memon and.  therefore,
     you were  in  possession  of  these
     arms, ammunition, hand granades and
     explosives       unauthorisedly     in
     Greater Bombay  with an  intent  to
     aid terrorists  by contravening the
     provisions     of   Arms  Act,   1959,
     Explosives     Act,  1884,  Explosives
     Substances Act, 1908 and Explosives
     Rules,   1983   and   thereby   you
     committed    an   offence  punishable
     under section  6 of  TADA (P)  Act,
     1987 and within my cognizance.
      AND I     HEREBY direct    that you
     all be  tried by  me  on  the  said
     First Charge and Charges framed for
     the over  acts committed  by you in
     curse of  the same transaction i.e,
     in pursuance of the
44. A  perusal    of  the     aforesaid  charge  shows  that     the
allegation against Amjad is that he had permitted co-accused
Yakoob Abdul-Razak  Memon to  park motor vehicles laden with
arms, ammunition and explosives in his premises; and that he
was possession    of the    same. Shri  Tulsi contends that this
possession was    "conscious" and     as such in view of what has
been held  by the  Constitution Bench in Sanjay Dutt's case,
1994 (5)  SC 910,  the appellant  was rightly  charged under
section 3(3)  of TADA.    Our  attention    is  invited  by     the
learned Addl.  Solicitor General  to the  decisions of    this
Court in State of Maharashtra vs. Abdul Hamid Haji Mohammed,
1994 (2)  SCC 664  and state of West Bengal vs. Mohd. Khalid
etc., 1995 (1) SCC 684, wherein possession of bomb AK-56 was
held sufficient to attract mischief of TADA.
45.  In      refuting  the     aforesaid  contentions,  Shri    Jain
submitted that    the materials  on record show the after this
appellant came    to know     about the  parking of the vehicles,
which were  loaded with     arms and ammunition, he immediately
asked Yakoob  to remove     tho jeep  from his compound, as has
been mentioned    by the    designate Court     itself in his order
dated 25th  September, 1993  by which  he had  released this
appellant on bail. The Designated Court had further observed
in  this  connection  that  this  conduct  showed  that     the
appellant was  not agreeable  to allow    Yakoob to  park     his
vehicles in  his compound,  which showed  that    he  had     not
intentionally aided  Yakoob. The  Designated Court had taken
this view  by relying  on  what     had  been  stated  by    this
appellant  in    his  confession,   which  was    sufficiently
corroborated by confession of the co-accused.
46. Shri  Jain has,  therefore, submitted, and rightly, that
the conduct  of the  appellant is  clearly indicative of the
fact that  he was  neither in  conscious possession  of     the
arms, ammunition  etc. nor  had he aided Yakoob Memon in any
way in the terrorist act. We would, therefore, order for the
discharge of  this appellant  also by  allowing     his  appeal
numbered as  Criminal Appeal 810 of 1994. The general charge
would also  fail qua  this appellant  for the  reason  given
while dealing with the case of the appellant Abu.
        Raju @ Rajucode Jain
47. We may note the individual charge against this appellant
which reads as below
     "In addition  to charge  First, you
     accused Raju Laxmichand Jain @ Raju
     Kodi, is  also charged  for  having
     committed the  following offence in
     pursuance      to     the    criminal
     conspiracy     described   in      Charge
      SECONDLY:-  That  you     accused
     Raju Laxmichand Jain @ Raju Kodi in
     pursuance of the aforesaid criminal
     conspiracy and  during  the  period
     from December,  1992 to April, 1993
     abetted and  knowingly  facilitated
     the commission  of     terrorists  act
     and act  preparatory  to  terrorist
     act i.e. serial bomb blast and such
     other acts     which were committed in
     Bombay and its suburbs on 12.3.1993
     by agreeing  to do and by doing the
     following overt acts:-
     (a) That  you are a close associate
     of Mushtaq     @ Ibrahim @ Tiger Abdul
     (b)  That     you   participated   in
     smuggling,          landing         and
     and  explosives  (RDX)  which  were
     smuggled  into   the   country   by
     Mushtaq @    Ibrahim     @  Tiger  Abdul
     Razak  Memon   and     his  associates
     which landed at Shekhadi on 3rd and
     7th February,  1993 by sending your
     men and  4 jeeps  for  facilitating
     landing,      transportation     and
     distribution  of  arms,  ammunition
     and explosives;
     (C) That  you  lent  Motor     Scooter
     No.MP-14-B-5349 which was purchased
     by you  in the  name  of  your  ex-
     employee P.B.  Bali  to  Mushtaq  @
     Ibrahim @    Tiger Abdul  Razak Memon
     and  his    associates   which   was
     planted as     Motor Scooter    bomb  at
     Katha  Bazar   on     12.3.1993   and
     exploded  at   about  14.15   hours
     resulting in  death of  4    persons,
     inuring  21   and    huge   loss   of
     property worth 40 lacs;
     and that  you thereby  committed an
     offence  punishable  under     Section
     3(3) of  the TADA (P) Act, 1987 and
     within my cognizance."
48. Shri Tulsi has urged that there are sufficient materials
on record to bring home the aforesaid charge. We were handed
over a summary of these materials reading as below:
     i) Association with Tiger Memon:
      Raju Kodi,  being the     man  of
     confidence     of   Tiger  Memon,  was
     dealing  in  disposal  of    smuggled
     gold and silver since long.
      He  purchased      M/scooter   in
     April- 1992  and lent  the same  to
     Tiger    Memon    for    smuggling
     activities and the same scooter was
     used as  scooter Bomb  and exploded
     at Kathya Bazar.
      The Registration papers of the
     said scooter  were recovered at the
     instance of  the Raju  Kodi under a
     Panchanama dt. 12/07/1993.
      Raju        Kodi       deposited
     Rs.1,61,48,000/-  in   the     'Hathi'
     account  maintained  by  co-accused
     Mulchand  Shah   and  belonging  to
     Tiger Memon  during the period from
     07/11/1992 to  4/12/1992. The  same
     amount  was  subsequently    used  by
     Tiger Memon for blast purpose. (the
     'Hathi' account  note was recovered
     at     the   instance     of   co-accused
     Mulchand Sampatraj Shah.
      Raju Kodi  purchased the  said
     M/Scooter     and   3   Jeeps   under
     fictitious names.
      Raju Kodi  gave  his    men  and
     four Jeeps     for  transportation  of
     Arms, Ammunition  and RDX landed by
     Tiger  Memon.   These  Jeeps   were
     provided with  special cavities  to
     conceal the  arms,     ammunition  and
     RDX. These     Jeeps were recovered at
     his instance under Panchanama dated
     1/06/1993. These  Jeeps were  found
     with "traces  of  RDX  vide  F.S.L.
     ii) The accused Azgar Yusuf Mukadam
     is narrating  in  his  confessional
     statement about  the association of
     the appellant  with Tiger Memon and
     dealing  with   him  in   smuggling
     activities and Hawala money
     iii)   The       co-accused    Mulchand
     Sampatraj Shah  is narrating in his
     confessional  statement  about  the
     association of  the appellant  with
     Tiger Memon and dealing with him in
     smuggling    activities   and  Hawala
     iv)  The    co-accused  Salim   Mira
     Moinddin Shaikh is narrating in his
     confessional  statement  about  tie
     association with  Tiger  Memon  and
     his smuggling activities.
     v) the  co-accused viz.  Abdul Gani
     Ismail Turk  is  narrating     in  his
     confession about association of the
     appellant    with   co-accused  Tiger
     Memon  and      dealing  in  smuggling
     activities and Hawala money.
     vi)    The       co-accused     Imtiyaz
     Yunusmiya Ghavate    is narrating  in
     his confession about association of
     the appellant  with Tiger Memon and
     dealing in smuggling activities and
     Hawala Money."
     May it  be stated    that for  the purpose of the present
case, we  cannot enter    into  the  probative  value  of     the
statements made     by different persons in this regard tending
to support the above.
49. The     Sola submission of Shri Jethmalani was that even if
this appellant    had knowledge  about transportation of arms,
ammunition and RDX brought by Tiger Memon, it cannot be held
in law    that he played a part in the conspiracy, and so, the
charge under  section 3(3)  to the  Act     has  to  fail.     The
materials do  not establish  even statement.  We are  afraid
this submission cannot be accepted because of the concept of
conspiracy explained  by us  above.  Any  reasonable  person
knowing about transportation of materials like RDX has to be
imputed the  intent of    its use     for illegal  purpose  there
being no  material to  show that RDX can be put to any Jegal
use. Further,  as  already  held,  the    prosecution  has  no
obligation under the law to establish that the appellant had
know that  the RDX,  and for that matter other objectionable
materials would     be used for the purpose of blasts which had
taken place  in Bombay.     The alleged  fact  that  the  jeeps
provided by  the appellant  had cavities  to  conceal  arms,
ammunition and RDX. and that the Jeeps were recovered at the
instance of  the appellant  on 1.6.1993     in which were found
traces     of RDX.  would prima  facie show that the appellant
had aided  the terrorist  act in  question , even as per the
definition of  the word     "abet" given  in section 109 of the
Penal Code.  The alleged financial assistance provided would
attract the enlarged definition of abetment given in section
2(1)(a)(ii) of the Act.
50. Apropos  the case of the persecution that this appellant
kept   silence     despite   knowing   about   the   aforesaid
transportation form  his  driver,  the    submission  of    Shri
Jethmalani is  that there  is nothing to show as to when the
appellant had  know form  his driver  about this  fact.     The
learned counsel     asked whether    the  information  was  given
immediately after the driver had come back or after the bomb
blasts had  taken place     or after  he was  arrested ? May we
mention     that    the  fact  of  knowledge  of  the  aforesaid
transportation was know as per the confessional statement of
the appellant from his driver. The further statement in this
context is that despite knowing this he had not disclosed to
anybody     about    transportation    ,  which  according  to     the
appellant was  due to  the fear     of police.  Shri Jethmalani
asked the  just mentioned  questions to     persuade us to hold
that  there  was  no  criminality  in  the  silence  of     the
appellant  in    not   informing      the    police     about     the
transportation. Even  if some allowance is made to this part
of the    submission  of    the  learned  counsel,    the  law  of
conspiracy. being  as explained     above, a  prima facie    case
against this  appellant under  section 3(3)  of the Act does
exist. The  individual charge as well as the general charge,
therefore, must     be maintained in so far as he is concerned.
So his    appeal- the same being criminal appeal 793/95 stands
               Somnath Thapa
51. This  appellant's role  in the  tragedy is    of a  higher
order inasmuch    as being  an  Addl.  Collector    of  Customs,
Preventive, the     allegation is    that he facilitated movement
of arms,  ammunition and explosives which were smuggled into
India by  Dawood Ibrahim, Mohmed Dosa, Tiger Memon and their
associates, The     Addl. Solicitor General was emphatic that a
full proof  case relating  to framing  of charge against him
does  exist.   Shri  Shirodkar     was  equally    emphatic  in
submitting  that   materials  on   record  fall      short      of
establishing a prima facie case against this appellant.
52. Let the additional charge framed against him be noted:
     "The  you     Somnath  Kakaram  Thapa
     during the     period you  were posted
     as Additional Collector of Customs,
     Preventive, Bombay and particularly
     during the     period January, 1993 to
     February, 1993  in pursuance of the
     aforesaid criminal     conspiracy  and
     in     furtherance   of   its      object
     abetted and  knowingly  facilitated
     the commission  of terrorists' acts
     and preparatory to terrorists'' act
     i.e. bomb blast and such other acts
     which were     committed in Bombay and
     its   suburbs    on   12.3.93    by
     intentionally aiding  and    abetting
     Dawood Ibrahim  Kaskar, Mohmed Dosa
     and Mushtaq  @  Tiger  Abdul  Razak
     Memon  and      their     associates  and
     knowingly facilitated  smuggling of
     arms,  ammunition     and  explosives
     which were     smuggled into    India by
     Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Mohmed  Dosa
     Mushtaq @    Ibhrahim @  Tiger  Abdul
     Razak Memon  and  their  associates
     for  the    purpose     of   committing
     terrorists      acts     by   your   non
     interference inspite  of  the  fact
     that you  had specific  information
     and knowledge  that arms ammunition
     and explosives  are being    smuggled
     into  the     country  by  terrorists
     Preventive you  were  legally bound
     to prevent     it and that you thereby
     committed    an   offence  punishable
     under Section 3(3) of TADA (p) Act,
     1987 and within my cognizance.
53 According  to Shri Tulsi the following materials make out
the prima facie case against this appellant:
     (i) Association with Mohd.Dosa:
      S.N.     Thapa     has   been   an
     associate    of   absconding     accused
     Mohd. Dosa,  who has played a major
     role in  the  conspiracy  to  cause
     bomb blasts.  The Tel. Nos. (RES. &
     official) of  S.N. Thapa  have been
     found entered  in    the  Tel.  diary
     seized form  Mohd. Hanif @ Raju, an
     employee of Mohd. Dosa.
     (ii) Association with Tiger Memon:
      S.N.     Thapa     has   been   an
     associate of  Tiger Memon the prime
     accused in the bomb blast case, who
     is still  absconding. He  has  been
     facilitating     the      smuggling
     activities of  Tiger Memon     against
     illegal gratification.
     (iii) Meeting  with Tiger Memon and
     Gist of  Conversation  recorded  on
     Micro cassettes:
     An absconding  accused Yakub  Abdul
     Razak Memon  was  arrested     at  New
     Delhi   on       5.8.94.   From    his
     possession a  number of  include  a
     manuscript of  gist of conversation
     recorded on  May 19,  1994 on  Sony
     Micro cassettes,  in the  garden of
     the house of Yakub Memon in Karachi
     (Pakistan).  Accused  Yakub  Memon,
     Syed Arif (Pakistani National) Hazi
     Taufique     Jaliawala    (Pakistani
     National)    Tiger    Memon,     Suleman
     Memon    and    Yub    Memon    had
     participated in  the  conversation.
     This gist of conversation refers to
     various  matter  which  show  close
     association of Tiger Memon with Sh.
     Thapa. In    the gist of conversation
     there  is     reference  of     ISI  of
     Pakistan and  Tiger Memon    speaking
     that one  day Sh. Thapa had arrived
     at sea shore at the time of illegal
     landing and  that Tiger  Memon  had
     paid him  Rs.22 lacs  for    allowing
     the smuggling.
     The investigation    had  established
     that the  said gist of conversation
     is      in    the    hand-writing   of
     accused  Yakub  Memon.  Independent
     witnesses    and    the  handwriting
     expert have proved his handwriting.
     (iv)  Statement   of  L.D.     Mhatre,
     Mhatre Customs Inspr.:
        L.D.  Mhatre   introduced  a
     source (witness   code   No.Q-3360)
     to S.N.  Thapa and     it was     decided
     that  the     source     would    pass  on
     information  about        the     illegal
     landings at  Shekhadi to  Sh.Thapa,
     through  Mhatre   and  on     receipt
     of      the information Nakabandi  may
     be      kept at   "Sai  Morba-Goregoan
     Junction" because     that  was   the
     main     exit  point     after  the
     landing.  The    source  gave    an
     information    of    the  landing  to
     Mhatre on     29.1.93  and     it  was
     passed   on    to      Sh.Thapa    by
     Mhatre. Thapa   kept  Nakabandi  on
     the right of 30 & 31st Jan. 1993 at
     Purar  Phata  and    Behan  Phata  on
     Mhasla-Goregoan    Road     leaving
     another route  open for  the escape
     of smuggled goods. He did    not keep
     Nakabandi    at     the  pre-arranged
     point.   He lifted     the   Nakabandi
     after     two  days    without  any
     specific reasons.
      The source   later on informed
     Thapa through  Mhatre that     on  the
     night of  3.2.93 instead  of silver
     same  chemicals   had   landed   at
     Shekhadi. Sh.Thapa     did not contact
     the  source  to  ascertain     further
     details. Nor did he inform about it
     to his  senior officers.    He  also
     did   not     submit     the  Operations
     Report, as was required.
     (v) Statement of Sh.R.K. Singh:
      Shri    R.K.    Singh  in    his
     confession, has  stated that on the
     night  of 1.2.93  at about     2.00 At
     Sh.Thapa  gave   him  a  telephonic
     message saving  that something  had
     happened     beyond        bankot    in
     thelimits     of Pune    Customs  and
     that he   should personally verify.
     R.K.   Singh,    deputed      custom
     officers for  this job.   On 4.2.93
     another    accused       M.S.       Syed,
     Customs   Superintendent    informed
     R.K. Singh     that the smuggled goods
     and  already   passed.  R.K.  Singh
     received  Rs.3   lacs  as     illegal
     gratification for    the landing  out
     of     which    he  gave  Rs.1    lacs  to
     Sh.S.N. Thapa.
     (v) Awareness about landing :
      Sh.S.K. Bhardwaj, Collector of
     Customs,(Prev.) issued a letter dt.
     25.1.93  addressed       to     Sh.R.K.
     Singh     and       A.K.      Hassan
     Asstt.Collectors     of    Customs,
     mentioning       that intelligence had
     been received  that big quantity of
     weapons would  he      smuggled  into
     India by  ISI  alongwith  gold  and
     silver and     these were likely to be
     landed in    next 15-30  days  around
     Bombay,   Shrivardhan, Bankot   and
     Ratnagiri     etc. The  Collector  of
     Customs   had     directed    the
     subordinate  officers   to     keep  a
     close watch  & that  all-time alert
     may be  kept. The    copy  of    this
     letter    was  also   endorsed  to
     Sh.Thapa,    who   had  seen      it  on
        In addition to the aforesaid
     letter from  the statements  of the
     customs   officer,          who    had
     accompanied    Sh.        Thapa    for
     akabandi on   30th     &   31st  Jan.,
     1993,     it    is       clear    that
     Sh.Thapa had   knowledge  that arms
     were likely to he smuggled by Tiger
     Memon. He had infact disclosed this
     information  to   the   subordinate
     officers at the time of nakabandi.
        Sh.Thapa  was   conveyed  by
     Sh.V.M.      Doyphode,     another
     Addl.Collector   of   Customs  that
     landing         of        smuggled
     contrabants was   about  to    take
     place   near Mhaysla  on  the night
     of     2.2.93 Sh.  Thapa intentionally
     sent a mis-leading wireless message
     that   something  had  happened  at
     Bankot therefore, maximum    alert to
     be      Wept     in   Alibagh     region.
     Bankot  is        in      a    different
     direction     and   far   away   from
     Mhasala.    Sh.Doyphode    had   not
     mentioned about Bankot.
     (vii) Vehicle and Vessel Log Book :
      When Nakabandi   was    kept  on
     30.1.95   by  Sh.Thapa,  the  Govt.
     Maruti van     No.MH-01-8579 was  also
     taken    by  Sh.Thapa    with  him.
     However,  the   investigation   had
     disclosed that  the  pages     of  the
     109 book    for  the  period 26.1.93
     to      16.2.93  were missing from the
     log book,    as these  had been  torn
     from it.
      In Alibagh   Div.  of     Customs
     Deptt.   one patrol   vessel    Al-
     Nadsem is provided.
      A logbook   is maintained  for
     the   vessel. The investigation had
     disclosed    that an entry dt. 2.2.93
     has  been     made  in   the     logbook
     showing  the  accused  J.K.  Gurav,
     Customs         Inspr.    alongwith
     subordinate    staff   did         see
     patroling       from     Shrivardhan  to
     Bankot from  2100 hrs  of 2.2.93 to
     0070 hrs  of 3.2.93.  The    entry is
     made by   J.K.   Gurav,   which  is
     not correct  because  when compared
     with  the     entries  made     in  the
     wireless logbook     of  Shrivardhan
     Customs office   it  is  seen  that
     patrolling      commenced at 2345 hrs.
     on 2.2.93    and  not  on  2100  hrs.
     Inspr. Gurav  is also an accused in
     the   case,    and      had    actively
     conspired alongwith   accused  S.N.
     Thapa  and other customs officers."
54.  From the above gist it appears that the main allegation
to establish  the case    against Thapa  is his  allowing     the
smuggling of  the aforesaid  goods by not doing Nakabandi at
the  pre-arranged  point  but  at  some     distance  therefrom
leaving an escape route for the smugglers to carry the goods
upto Bombay.  To appreciate this case of the prosecution, it
would be useful to know the topography of the area, as would
appear from  the following  rough sketch handed over by Shri
55.  Shri Tulsi     contended that Thapa had been forewarned by
a communication     of Shri S.K. Bhardwaj, Collector of Customs
(Preventive) dated  25.1.93 addressed  to S/Shri  R.K. Singh
and  A.K.   Hassan,  Asstt.   Collectors  of  Customs,    that
intelligence had  been received that big quantity of weapons
would be  smuggled into     India by  Ist    alongwith  gold     and
silver which  were likely  to land in next 15-30 days around
Bombay, Shrivardhan,  Bankot and  Ratnagiri etc.,  a copy of
which was  endorsed to Thapa, who had seen the same. In fact
he disclosed  this information    to his    subordinate officers
also. (The  fact that  Thapa had  received  a  copy  of     the
letter, about  which Shri  Shirodkar mentioned    many a time,
has no    significance as     copy was apparently sent to apprise
Thapa of  the contents,     requiring him to take such steps as
would have  been within     the ken  and competence  of a    high
custom    official  on  the  preventive  side  like  him).  It
deserves to be noted that the information was not only about
smuggling of  gold and silver alone, but of weapons and that
too by the ISI-an agency alleged to be extremely inimical to
India. This is not all. Indeed, there are material on record
to show     that Thapa  had information  about landing  of     RDX
(described as  'Kala Sabun'  in the under-world) at Shekhadi
and Shrivardhan     on 3.2.93.  According    to  Addl.  Solicitor
General, Thapa    had facilitated     the movement  or be used to
receive fat  sum of  money from     Tiger Memon as quid pro quo
for help in his smuggling activities.
56.  Shri Shirodkar  strongly refuted the contentions of the
Addl.Solicitor General    and, according to him, Nakabandi had
been done at the places suggested by the local officers like
Inspectors Agarkar  and Kopikar, who had better knowledge of
the place  of the  Nakabandi, and therefore, no fault can be
found with Thapa for having done Nakabandi at a wrong place.
As to  the motive  ascribed,  the  submission  was  that  to
sustain the  same the  only matter  is of conversation found
from the  possession of     absconding accused  Yakub Memon who
was arrested at New Delhi on 5.8.94. The conversation itself
was  recorded  on  a  cassette,     which,     according  to    Shri
Shirodkar, was    not at    all audible  as was certified by the
Doordarshan Center of Bombay. The learned counsel would also
require us  to bear in mind that Thapa had been granted bail
not only  by this Court on 5.9.1994, but subsequently by the
Designated Court on 7.2.1795, which had been done bearing in
mind the materials which had come on record till then.
57. A  perusal    of  the     statement  made  by  aforesaid     two
Inspectors shows  that they  had made  two statements at two
points of  time. The  first of    these has  been described as
"original statement'  by Shri  Shirodkar in his written note
and the     second as  "further  statement".  In  the  original
statement, these two Inspectors are said to have told Thapa,
on being  asked which  would be     crucial places     for  laying
trap, that  the same  were Purar  Phata and  Behan Phata, at
which places trap was in fact laid. But then, in the further
statement the  Inspectors are said to have opined that watch
should be  kept at Sai-Morba-Goregoan junction, because that
was the     main exit  point for  smuggling done at Shrivardhan
and Shekhadi.  Shri Shirodkar  would not  like us to rely on
what was  stated subsequently  by these     Inspectors, as that
was under  pressure of investigation undertaken subsequently
by the    C.B.I. We  do not  think that  the law permits us to
find out at this stage as to which of the two versions given
by two Inspectors is correct. We have said so because at the
stage of  framing of charge probative value of the statement
cannot be  gone into,  which would come to be decided at the
close of the trial. There is no doubt that if the subsequent
statement be  correct, Nakabandi  was done not at the proper
place, as that left Sai-Morba Road free for the smugglers to
carry the goods upto Bombay.
58.  Shri   Shirodkar  submitted   that     the  Nakabandi     was
organised at Purar Phata and Behan Phata also because a trap
has to    be laid     at a little distance from the crucial point
so that     it may     not come  to the  notice of all and sundry,
which may  prove abortive, as information about the same may
be passed  on to the smugglers. We do not propose to express
any opinion  on this  submission also,    as this     would be  a
matter to  be decided  at the  trial when defence version of
the case would be examined.
59. As    to the    motive sought to be established on the basis
of a  gist of  the taps     recorded conversation    said to have
been recovered    from absconding     accused Yakub    Memon, which
contained the  statement that  one day    Thapa had arrived at
sea shore at the time of illegal landing and Tiger Memon had
paid him  Rs.  22  lacs     for  allowing    the  smuggling,     the
submission of  the learned  counsel is    that it     is hard  to
believe that  Yakub Memon would have carried in his pocket a
gist like  the one  at hand.  Even if  we were    to give some
benefit to  the appellant  on this score, that would tend to
demolish the  case of  the prosecution    mainly relatable  to
motive, which  is not  required to  be established  to bring
home an     accusation. As     to Thapa, the allegation relates to
facilitating movement  of arms,     RDX etc.,  which act  would
amount to  abetment, as     it would  be an  assistance,  which
would attract  clause (iii)  of section     2(i)(a) of the Act,
defining  the    word  'abet'.  It  may    be  noted  that     the
individual charge against Thapa is for commission of offence
under  section    3(3)  of  TADA,     which,     inter    alia,  makes
abetment punishable.
60. Shri  Shirodkar submitted  that the investigating agency
wanted to rope in Thapa any how, which was apparent from the
fact  that   it     took  recourse     to  even  manufacturing  of
evidence, as  telephone number    of Dawood Ibrahim was fed in
the digital  diary found  at the residence of this appellant
on search  being made.    Shri Tulsi  explained as to how this
aspect of the matter, except observing that investigation at
times is either sluggish or over zealous - it may over shoot
61. All     told, we  are satisfied  that charges    were rightly
framed against    Thapa. This  takes us  to the State's appeal
arising out  of SLP  (Crl.) No.     2196 of  1995 in  which the
prayer is  to cancel the bail of Thapa, which was ordered by
this court on April 5, 1994 and then by the Desingated Court
by its    order dated  February 7,  1995. A  perusal  of    this
Court's order  shows that  when it  had examined the matter,
charge-sheet had  not been  submitted.    It  was,  therefore,
desired that  the  Designated  Court  should  reconsider  in
matter with  a view  to finding     out  whether  the  evidence
collected  in    the  course   of  investigation     showed     his
involvement. A    perusal of  Designated Court's    order  shows
that though  according to  it a     case was  made out  by     the
prosecution against  Thapa, it    took the view that there was
want of     material which     could be  tendered  as     substantive
evidence to  prove association of Thapa with Tiger Memon and
his associates.     And so,  it allowed  Thapa to    continue  on
bail. On these special facts, we are not satisfied if a case
for cancellation  of bail  has been  made out,    despite     our
taking the  view that  charges were  rightly framed  against
him. The State's appeal is, therefore, dismissed.
62. To    conclude, appeals  of Abu  Asim Azmi  and Amjad Aziz
Meherbux are  allowed and  they stand discharged. Appeals of
Raju @    Rajucode Jain  and Somnath  Thapa are dismissed. The
appeal of State is also dismissed.
63. Before parting, we may say that  alongwith these appeals
we had heard the case of one Mulchand Shah, being covered by
SLP (Crl.  ) No.894  of 1995.  But, by    an order  passed  on
31.1.1996 that    SLP had     been delinked    from these cases, on
the prayer  of counsel for Shah and was ordered to be listed
separately. So we have not dealt with that SLP.

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