Chandigarh: Man sentenced to three years for operating illegal telephone exchange

The exchange, which was first reported in 2005, incurred the government a loss of Rs 3.16 crore

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:March 15, 2017 3:45 am
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Chief judicial magistrate Akshdeep Mahajan sentenced a resident of Sector 15, Rajinder Garg, to imprisonment of three years for operating an illegal telephone exchange, which incurred the government a loss of Rs 3.16 crore at district court, Sector 43, on Tuesday. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 46,000 on Rajinder Garg. The co-accused in the case, Vishal Attri, who was also held guilty last week, was sentenced to imprisonment of one year.

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The court imposed a Rs 36,000 fine on Attri. Meanwhile, the court had acquitted Suresh Kumar, who was working under Garg. The court had declared Rajinder Kumar Rathore a proclaimed offender (PO) earlier. Counsel for Suresh Kumar, Swaraj Arora, said, “Suresh Kumar was acquitted as there was no evidence to establish for the crime.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered the case on the complaint of Sudhir Kumar Gupta, who was working as a divisional engineer, vigilance and telecom monitoring cell, department of telecommunication, ministry of communication and IT, New Delhi. He had complained to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2005 about Rajinder Garg, Vishal Attri, Suresh Kumar and Rajinder Kumar Rathore.

The accused persons used to make international calls using various BSNL sim cards by swapping the sims to different IMEIs to avoid detection, leading to huge losses to the Indian government. The accused have been booked under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for causing a loss of approximately Rs 3.16 crore to the Government of India.

The case was registered on the complaint of Sudhir Kumar Gupta, Divisional Engineer, Vigilance and Telecom Monitoring Cell, Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of Communication and IT, New Delhi in 2005. The FIR in the case was registered on August 25, 2005.

The premier investigating agency had booked Rajinder Garg, Vishal Attri, Suresh Kumar and Rajinder Kumar Rathore under Sections 420, 468, read with 109, 471, 120-B, 420 of the IPC and Sections 20, 21, 25 (c) of the Indian Telegraph Act. It was alleged that a toll-free number — 1600-110-420 — had been created in the MOCPG cell in the ministry of communication and IT for reporting grey market operations in the telecom sector.

A study of the call details records (CDRs) of numbers — for example, 9417629066 (a call was received from Libya), 9417628634 (call received from Bangladesh), 9417621471 (call received from New Zealand) — indicated that a huge number of outgoing calls were being made continuously from these numbers at odd hours through a large number of mobile GSM phones using BSNL sim cards. Interestingly, the sims were being swapped to different IMEIs to avoid detection. The CBI also gave a list of suspected IMEIs (around 50 in number), suspected mobile numbers (about 60 such mobile numbers) being used for making these calls.

Some of the numbers being used for the purpose belong to Himachal Pradesh (HP), so the CBI suspected the accused to be a resident of HP. The evidence in the ongoing trial was closed in May 2013 by the then chief judicial magistrate; however, the CBI filed an appeal in the sessions court which was allowed and the statement of prosecution witnesses are being recorded presently.

Rajinder Garg had bypassed incoming international calls without any license from the Indian government.

CBI gave evidence from Interpol

The calls were routed from a US-based firm, I-BASIS, to India via illegal setup with mediation from a Singapore-based firm called Ocean Telecom Pvt Limited. It was stated in the order allowing prosecution evidence that Interpol reference has confirmed that Ocean Telecom P Limited, Singapore, is controlled by Rajinder Garg.

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