The Delhi high court on Thursday granted bail to Chitra Ramkrishna in the money laundering case related to alleged illegal phone tapping and snooping of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) employees, saying prima facie there are reasonable grounds to believe she is not guilty.
Justice Jasmeet Singh granted bail to the former NSE managing director on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties of the like amount.
“Prima facie there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not guilty of the offence and she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail...the application is allowed and the applicant is granted bail,” the court said.
Ramkrishna was in custody for almost seven months in the matter.
“In the present case there is no allegation that the applicant has derived or obtained any property or proceeds of crime.
"Additionally, there is no allegation or evidence produced before me to suggest that the applicant has concealed, possessed, used, projected or claimed any proceeds of crime as untainted property,” the court also observed.
She was granted bail in the CBI case by the high court in September last year after being in custody for approximately seven months post her arrest in March 2022.
Ramkrishna, who was earlier arrested by the CBI in the alleged NSE co-location scam, was arrested in the present case by the Enforcement Directorate on July 14 last year.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opposed her bail plea in the present case on grounds that she was the “mastermind” behind the conspiracy.
The phone tapping case, according to the ED, pertains to a period from 2009 to 2017 when former NSE CEO Ravi Narain, Ramkrishna, executive vice-president Ravi Varanasi, and head (premises) Mahesh Haldipur and others conspired to cheat NSE and its employees and for the purpose, engaged iSEC Services Pvt Ltd for illegal interception of phone calls of employees of the NSE in the guise of doing periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities of the NSE.
In the 38-page order, Justice Singh said prima facie no scheduled offences, including those under the Indian Penal Code or the Prevention of Corruption Act, against Ramkrishna are established and thus the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act cannot be attracted.
The court also observed that no complaint or victim has been identified by the ED who has suffered a wrongful loss on account of deception or cheating by the accused.
“The applicant was at all times acting on behalf of NSE and representing NSE in her capacity as DMD/JMD/MD of NSE.
"She carried out her duties in the capacity of DMD/JMD/MD of NSE, therefore, it is wrong to allege that the applicant deceived or fraudulently induced NSE to enter into an agreement with M/s ISEC and make payments to M/s ISEC,” said the court.
The court said the bail is allowed subject to certain conditions including Ramkrishna joining the investigation and not leaving the country.
Seeking bail, Ramkrishna had argued that no scheduled offence was made out against her and the allegations also did not fall within the rigours of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Ramkrishna was appointed as Joint MD NSE in 2009 and remained in the position till March 31, 2013. She got elevated as MD and CEO on April 1, 2013.
Her tenure at NSE ended in December 2016.