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Allahabad HC directs CBI inquiry into extortion of lawyers in Prayagraj

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The Allahabad High Court has directed a CBI inquiry into 46 cases registered in various police stations of Prayagraj, including Mauaima, for extortion of money in the name of false cases of misconduct against lawyers.

A single-judge bench of Justice Gautam Chowdhary passed this order while hearing an application under Section 482 filed by Nikki Devi.

The Court passed the following order on 21.07.2022.

“Heard Shailesh Kumar Mishra, counsel for the applicant along with Vinod Shankar Tripathi, Advocate, A.G.A for the State and Sri Bhupendra Pandey, opposite party no 2, in person.

Perused the record.

The application has been filed to decide the sessions trial no 560 of 2021 (case crime no 150 of 2021) under Section 376-D, 506 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Act, P.S Daraganj District Prayagraj pending before Special Court, SC/ST Act, Prayagraj, expeditiously within the time stipulated by the Court.

Bhupendra Pandey states that there is a gang of Advocates operating in the Court, who trap people in these types of fake cases and after submission of chargesheet, extort money from them. The members of this gang get people trapped in the SC/ST Act case and distribute the money among themselves after getting money from the Government.

Shailesh Kumar Mishra, counsel for the applicant informed the Court that he never met with the deponent of the case. He stated that charges have not been framed in the case, which itself shows how the applicant is in a hurry for early disposal of the case.

As prayed by Bhupendra Pandey, two weeks time is granted to file counter affidavit. One week thereafter is granted for filing a rejoinder affidavit.

List this case on 18th August, 2022 as fresh along with record of application under Section 482, CrPC No 17706 of 2019. On that date Shailesh Kumar Mishra, counsel for the applicant is directed to produce the applicant Nikki Devi before the Court.

It is made clear that no liberty shall be granted to withdraw this application.

Lastly Bhupendra Pandey, in person, states that the applicant is being harassed, thus, he prays that some protection may be granted in his favour. Till further orders, the further proceedings of aforesaid case shall remain stayed.”

When the case was taken up on 21.07.2022, it was brought to the notice of the Court that several gangs are running through women at the behest of advocates/high profile person, who used to victimise the innocent persons in fake cases and after submission of charge sheet they extract money from them. The members of the gang used to trap the innocent persons in SC/ST Act and when they received the money from the Government, they distribute the money among themselves on account of which, the Court had asked the accused-opposite party no 2 namely, Bhupendra Pandey, who was appearing in person to produce the list of cases.

When the case was taken up, Bhupendra Pandey, Advocate-opposite party no 2 the accused in the case has drawn attention of the Court, which is the list of 50 cases demonstrating that the same has been registered against the innocent persons including the Advocates.

Apart from the aforesaid 50 cases, another case is the Sessions Trial arising out of Case under Sections 376-D, 506 IPC and Section 3 (2) (v) of SC/ST Act, Police Station Daraganj, District Prayagraj. Thus, overall 51 cases have been registered at District Prayagraj out of which, 36 cases have been registered at Police Station Mau-Aima itself whereas, remaining cases have been registered at different Police Stations. 

The Court noted,

Counsel for the accused persons as well as the accused-opposite party no 2-in person, argued that false and frivolous FIRs have been lodged against the village Pradhan and other innocent villagers only to extract money from the innocent persons at the stage of investigation on the pretext of dropping the proceedings against them.

When the accused persons denied, they used to give threat to their counsel not to contest their cases failing which, they would be implicated under SC/ST cases, rape cases etc., and in the said conspiracy several counsel of the District Prayagraj have been victimised of false accusation.

In the connected petition, Ashish Mishra, Advocate has been victimised of false accusation arising out of Case under Sections 376, 506 IPC Police Station Mauaima, District Allahabad pending before the Special Chief Judicial Magistrate, Allahabad.

Looking into the gravity of the case that gang is operating to lodge frivolous FIR against the Advocates of Allahabad High Court as well as District Court for the reasons that they are contesting the cases on behalf of the accused persons and secondly that money was demanded to withdraw the cases.

Bhupendra Kumar Pandey, Advocate and Ashish Mishra, Advocate, who are accused in case under Section 376-D, 506 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Act, P.S Daraganj District Prayagraj and Case Crime registered as Criminal Case under Sections 376, 506 IPC Police Station Mauaima, District Allahabad respectively, thus the matter is very serious.

The Court observed,

It is well settled that inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC have to be exercised to secure the ends of justice, to prevent abuse of process of any Court and to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under the CrPC depending upon the facts of the given case.

In the case, it appears that there is miscarriage of justice, thus relying upon the Judgement of the Apex Court in the matter of State of West Bengal and others (supra) as well as in the interest of justice and to protect the interest of Advocates, who are victimised of false accusations merely on the ground that they are contesting the case on behalf of accused persons. It is necessary that the matter be investigated by the CBI.

“Let preliminary enquiry be conducted by CBI with regard to the cases under Section 376- D, 506 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Act, PS Daraganj District Prayagraj, within a period of two months.

Gyan Prakash, Senior Counsel for the CBI assisted by Sanjay Kumar Yadav, Advocate, is directed to produce the preliminary report in a sealed cover before the Court on the next date fixed.

It is made clear that till submission of preliminary enquiry report by the CBI there shall be no arrest either of the accused persons or any other aggrieved persons,” the Court ordered.

The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on October 20, 2022.

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