Observing that the CBI was yet to unveil the identity of the ‘Himalayan yogi’ who is as elusive as the Himalayan Yeti, a Delhi court Thursday rejected the bail plea of Anand Subramanian, former group operating officer (GOO) of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in a 2018 case of bourse manipulation.
Special Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal denied bail to Subramanian, who the CBI alleged was impersonating a ‘Himalayan yogi’ and influencing the decisions of the former managing director (MD) Chitra Ramakrishna.
According to SEBI, several key decisions taken by Ramkrishna during her tenure as NSE’s MD and CEO from 2013 to 2016, including Subramanian’s appointment, were guided by an unidentified yogi “who may be largely dwelling in the Himalayan Ranges”. Ramkrishna is alleged to have shared confidential information of the bourse with the ‘Himalayan yogi.’
The court denied bail to Subramanian considering the grave and serious allegations against him.
“Further the investigations are going on and the investigating agency is in the process of removing the secret veil to show to the Court the true face of this Himalyan Yogi, who is as elusive as anecdotal Himalyan Yeti. Further the prosecution at this stage of investigation is stated to be working on disjoint scattered dots, from which it has to conjure a final picture in the shape of a charge sheet,” the court said.
It stated that the “investigations which are at the initial stage will crystalize into concrete form only after filing of the charge sheet.”
Even though the court said that Subramanian was not a flight risk, it held that since he was holding a pole position at NSE, there are “strong chances that he may influence the relevant witnesses or temper with the evidence.”
Subramanian’s lawyer, Arshdeep, had contended that a SEBI order passed in 2019 had stated that no criminality can be attributed to him. On this, the court said that SEBI had no papers to determine the criminality of the accused.
“The SEBI has no powers to determine the criminality of the accused in offences other than with which the SEBI Act deals, though some times, there may be some overlapping, as observed earlier while deciding the anticipatory bail application of co-accused Chitra Ramkrishna, although it is a completely different matter that all this while the SEBI has looked other way with regard to launching criminal
proceedings against the present accused as well as other accused persons involved in the co-location scam, despite being the market watch dog,” the court said.
On March 8, the court pulled up the CBI for its slow pace of investigation in the 2018 case, saying that the reputation of the country was at stake and that people will stop investing in India and move to China.
The 2018 case pertains to charges of preferential access to the trading system to some brokers through the co-location facility where brokers can buy “rack space” for their servers at NSE, early login and “dark fibre”, which can allow a trader split-second faster access to the data feed of the exchange. Even a split-second edge is considered capable of bringing huge gains to a trader.
The CBI has booked Sanjay Gupta, the owner and promoter of Delhi-based OPG Securities Pvt Ltd, and others in the case. According to the CBI, Gupta abused the NSE server architecture between 2010 and 2014, in criminal conspiracy with unknown officials of the exchange, and even bribed Sebi officials.