Nandkishore Bramhne v. State of Madhya Pradesh
In the High Court of Madhya Pradesh
M.Cr.C. No. 32164/2019
Before Justice Rajeev Kumar Dubey
Decided on August 22, 2019
Relevancy of the case: Manipulation of bids through VPN
Statutes & Provisions Involved
- The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 120B, 420, 467, 468, 471)
- The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (Section 7, 13(2))
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 439)
Relevant Facts of the Case
- The applicant, Nandkishore Bramhne, was assigned the duty as Nodal Officer of an e-tendering project. He was arrested under section 120B, 420, 467, 468, 471 of the Indian penal Code, 1860 and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 along with Section 7 r/w Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- On 11th April 2018 at the time of opening of the three tenders floated by the MPJNM, the computer displayed a message that “the contents of the document had been modified”. The service provider company Antares Systems was directed to submit the report after inquiry. They gave the Root Cause Analysis Report mentioning that the tenders had been tampered with.
- During the performance test of the e-tendering system, OSMO was provided with the user IDs and Bidder IDs by Antares Ltd.
- The manipulation was done by one of the user IDs and bid IDs for which a demo file was created on MP e-procurement portal. The IP address was registered while creating the said demo file which was linked with the mobile number of the co-accused and was being used by another co-accused.
- The hackers entered into the database through the staging server, where the original tenders were stored and this process was done through VPN, the access of which was only with the applicant.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
Shri H S Chhabra, Counsel on behalf of the Respondent:
- The role of the applicant, who was known to the co-accused, was to make sure that no untoward incident takes place in the whole process of e-tendering and there are no security lapses in the process. On the request of Nandkishore Brahmne, VPN (Virtual Private Network) access was given to him and was used for tender manipulation. There is an apprehension of tampering with the evidence by Nandkishore.
Shri Anil Khare, Counsel on behalf of the Applicant:
- The applicant has no role in the tender process. It is alleged that the hackers used the VPN access to manipulate the data of bids by using VPN allotted to the applicant, but there is no evidence to show that the hackers used it with the knowledge of the applicant. The applicant was the first person who complained regarding manipulation in tenders.
Opinion of the Bench
- The case of State of U.P. through CBI v. Amarnath Tripathi can’t be relied upon in the present case as the facts differ from each other. In this case, the applicant has no criminal past and there is no apprehension of him tampering the evidence.
- It is alleged that the applicant provided VPN access to other co-accused persons who manipulated the bid and thereby applicant is assumed to be a part of the conspiracy, but there is no direct evidence on record to show that it is the applicant who provided VPN access to other co-accused.
- The applicant is a government servant and there is no likelihood of him absconding or tampering with the prosecution evidence.
- The application was allowed. The applicant was directed to be released on bail upon the furnishing of personal bond in the sum of Rs. 50,000 with one surety for his appearance before the concerned court on all dates as may be fixed by the trial court.
- The applicant was ordered to, comply with all the terms and conditions of the bond, cooperate in the trial, not indulge in extending inducement to any person acquainted with the facts, not commit any similar offence, not seek unnecessary adjournments, and not leave India without the previous permission of the trial court.