Ravi Narain, former managing director and chief executive officer (MD&CEO) of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has been granted bail by Delhi's Rouse Avenue court on humanitarian grounds. He will have to provide a personal bond Rs1 lakh with two sureties of the same amount.
In an order issued earlier this month, special CBI (central bureau of investigation) judge Sunena Sharma says, "...accused or applicant is the sole caregiver for his wife who is suffering from fourth-stage cancer. Hence, without going into the merits of the case, I am inclined to grant bail to the accused/applicant on the humanitarian grounds in both the aforementioned cases. In view thereof, in both the aforementioned cases, the interim bail granted to the accused is hereby confirmed on the same terms and conditions..."
Mr Narain will have to always share his location with the investigating officer (IO). He will have to surrender his passport and not leave Delhi and the National capital region (NCR) without the court's permission. The former chief of NSE is also required to submit details of the hospital where he or his wife would be seeking medical care.
During the hearing, both the enforcement directorate (ED) and CBI contended that Mr Narain has two daughters living abroad who can take care of their mother. However, the judge says she found this argument 'quite insensitive'. "There is no denying to the fact that daughters do have the responsibility to take care of their parents but in the instant case, daughters of the applicant, owing to the fact that they are settled in the UK, married, having children, can not be expected to neglect their responsibility towards their own families. It would be highly insensitive to expect them to move from UK to India permanently for giving care and treatment to their mother who on account of nature and condition of her ailment, requires constant care and treatment."
Following directions from the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA), the CBI had registered a new case against NSE former chiefs Ms Ramkrishna and Mr Narain, as well as Mumbai's retired police commissioner (CP) Mr Pandey. The case has been registered for allegedly tapping the phones of NSE employees between 2009 and 2017.
As per the enforcement case information report (ECIR) of ED, "...it was he (Mr Narain) who introduced accused Sanjay Pandey of iSec Services Pvt Ltd to accused Chitra Ramkrishna... Abusing their official positions, both accused Ms Ramkrishna and Mr Narain decided on interception, monitoring and recording of telephone calls which was done under the garb of periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities."
"Mr Narain was instrumental in according approval for payment of the proceeds of crime which would not have been acquired by iSec Services without the said approval. Subsequent to the approvals granted by him as MD, a payment of Rs1,82,24,599 was made by NSE to iSec Services for this work out of the total payment of Rs4,54,38,162. The total amount of Rs4,54,38,162, including the sum of Rs1,82,24,599 paid under his tenure as MD, NSE, represents the proceeds of crime in this case which were acquired by iSec Services from NSE and which were projected as fees for non-existent periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities of NSE. Thus, accused Mr Narain is guilty of offence of money laundering as defined in Section 3 of PMLA, 2002, as he was directly or indirectly indulging in or knowingly assisting in and was actually involved in all or any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming it as untainted property," the ECIR says.
In 2009, iSec Services set up a call monitoring system on the seventh floor of NSE. Until 2012, it used the set up provided by Comtel to NSE to monitor or intercept the calls. After that, NSE purchased a call monitoring set up from iSec Services which was installed in the upper basement of the NSE building.
As per ED, "NSE was provided with four primary rate interface (PRI) lines, each line having a capacity of 30 telephone connections by MTNL which originated from MTNL and terminated at EPABX of NSE. During the period from 1 January 2009 to 13 February 2017, iSec Services was monitoring or intercepting the calls of these four PRI lines used by employees of NSE and submitted copies of transcript of conversations to the top management of NSE."
ED says, "The telephone monitoring was carried out by NSE through iSec Services without taking permission of the competent authority as required under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act as well as without the knowledge or consent of the employees. These PRI lines were allegedly intercepted before their termination on EPABX of NSE. The telephone numbers to be monitored were identified by accused Ms Ramkrishna, NSE Mumbai and conveyed to Ravi Varanasi, vice president of NSE and he in turn provided the same to Mahesh Haldipur, head (premises) (at NSE) who gave it to iSec Services. The identified officers and departments included market watch, market surveillance, risk management having access to critical online information and access to online real time data bases."
"…from 2009 to 2017, top officials of NSE, abusing their official position and iSec Services had conspired together to illegally intercept phone calls of employees of NSE in the guise of periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities of NSE, breaching the confidentiality and privacy of the employees of NSE and had caused wrongful gain of Rs4,54,38,162 to iSec Services as payment for this task and corresponding wrongful loss to NSE," ED further says.
"After acquiring the same, the said proceeds of crime were used by iSec Services for its business and creating of assets in its name. Thus iSec Services is guilty of offence of money laundering as defined in Section 3 of the PMLA, 2002, as it was directly or indirectly indulging in and was actually involved in all or any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime, including its concealment, possession, acquisition or used and projecting or claiming it as untainted property," the ECIR says.
Mr Narain was the MD and CEO of NSE from April 1994 to 31 March 2013. Thereafter, he was appointed as vice–chairman in non-executive category on the NSE board on 1 April 2013 and remained so till 1 June 2017, when he resigned from his post. Ms Ramkrishna was the MD&CEO of the NSE from April 2013 before she was asked by the board to resign on 2 December 2016.