This case concerns an alleged criminal conspiracy between the accused public servants and the abuse of their official positions in granting Centaur Hotel's and Chefair Flight Catering's staff transportation contracts to contractor M/s. Deep Travels and making exorbitant payments to it between 2002 and 2005.
Date of Judgement
18 December 2020
SH. SANJAY GARG
Central Bureau of Investigation (Appellant)
R. C. Aggarwal, A. V. Kharkar (Respondent)
- Whether the accused person is liable for the offence charged under Sections 120 IPC, 420 IPC read with Section 13 PC Act?
- Centaur Hotel, Delhi, and Chefair Flight Catering, Delhi, are subsidiaries of Hotel Corporation of India Limited (HCIL), a public sector operation and a subsidiary of Air India Limited.
- HCI had issued a public tender for staff transport service for its Delhi units, Centaur Hotel and Chefair Flight Catering, in December 1999, but the tender was re-floated for the period 01.04.2000 to 31.03.2002 due to technical issues.
- The contract was given to M/s. Deep Travels for an ad hoc period of four months based on the lowest quoted rates, subject to satisfactory performance. M/s. Kapson Travels filed a Civil Writ Petition No. 1461/2000 before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi challenging the re-floating of the tender.
- The award of tender by HCI shall be subject to the outcome of C.C. No. 05/2019 CBI v. R.C. Aggarwal &Ors., according to an order dated 31.03.2000 issued in the above writ suit. The writ petition was dismissed on September 20, 2001, when HCI agreed to allow M/s. Kapson Travels to bid for the next procurement, which would begin in April 2002, and that M/s. Deep Travels would not be awarded weightage for delivering service during the tender, which would finish on March 31, 2002.
- Because the contract awarded to M/s. Deep Travels could not be regularised upon the expiration of the adhoc period due to the pending writ petition, and the contractor continued to render services until the 31st of March 2002, the competent authority granted retrospective sanction for contract regularisation.
- Sections 120 IPC, 420 IPC read with Section 13 PC Act read with 120B IPC was framed.
- Section 13 of the PC Act is Criminal misconduct by a public servant.
- Section 420 IPC provides punishment for the offence of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.
- Section 120 IPC defines the offence of criminal conspiracy.
- M/s. Deep Travels (A7) ceased the transportation service after the tender period ended on 31.03.2002, because the Hon'ble Supreme Court had imposed restrictions on the running of diesel buses in Delhi with effect from 05.04.2002, and had instructed that commercial vehicles be driven on CNG fuel. As a result, on June 10, 2002, accused R. C. Aggarwal (A1) approved the process of issuing a tender for a CNG-based staff transportation service.
- Accused Pohp Singh (A6), a partner of M/s. Deep Travels, learned of the procedure and sent two letters dated 27.06.2002, in which he offered a cost of Rs. 15/- per kilometre with a CNG rise for 37 to 52 seater buses beginning on July 1, 2002.
- According to the investigation, accused R. C. Aggarwal (A1), in response to a complaint from accused Pohp Singh (A6) about the delay in the issuance of a letter of intent, asked accused P. K. Malhotra (A3) to issue a work order without further delay via letter dated 16.07.2002 and accused P. K. Malhotra issued a letter of intent to M/s. Deep Travels on the same day without carrying out the inspection.
- Further investigation found that one M/s. Chetan Travels had filed its quotation for the staff transportation contract through a letter dated 05.10.2002 on its own initiative, giving a lesser rate of Rs. 16.50 per kilometre for CNG buses, but accused R. C. Aggarwal (A1) willfully ignored it.
- M/s. Deep Travels was also found to be operating minibuses C.C. No. 05/2019 CBI v. R.C. Aggarwal &Ors. Instead of 52-seater buses, was used, and there were numerous objections. With this in mind, the tender committee advised in its note dated 07.11.2002 that M/s. Deep Travels' contract be terminated and a fresh public tender is floated, but instead of taking action, accused R. C. Aggarwal (A1) held the matter open for discussion.
- The Hon'ble Supreme Court has clearly laid out the process to be followed for the issuance of sanctions in C.C. No. 05/2019 CBI v. R.C. Aggarwal &Ors. in Central Bureau of Investigation v. Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, (2014)14 SCC 295.
- The prosecution must give the sanctioning authority the complete relevant record, including the FIR, disclosure statements, witness statements, recovery notes, draught charge sheet, and all other necessary documents.
- The record supplied should also include any material/documents that may tip the scales in favour of the accused and allow the competent authority to refuse sanction based on them.
The prosecution has failed miserably to establish the accused's guilt for the crimes charged against them. As a result, the accused people are R. C. Aggarwal (A1), A. V. Kharkar (A2), P. K. Malhotra (A3), CBI v. R.C. Aggarwal &Ors. Prasad (A4), V. K. Malhotra (A5), and Pop Singh (A6) have been acquitted of the charges under Sections 120B IPC, 420 IPC read with 120B Accused Anil Kalia (A8) is also acquitted of the accusation for the offence under Section 109 IPC.
Click here to download the original copy of the judgement