A Delhi court on Wednesday sent former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey to nine-day ED custody in connection with the alleged phone-tapping of NSE employees, which, the agency suspects, could be linked to money laundering.
Special Judge Sunena Sharma sent Pandey to ED custody after he was produced by the agency following his arrest on Tuesday. The judge after perusing the ED documents said that there was sufficient material to show that iSec Services Pvt Ltd, in which Pandey held a directorship in 2006, had “purchased certain machines, software as well as hardware…used for illegal interception of phone calls of NSE employees”.
The ED case is based on an FIR registered by the CBI in 2018 against 1986-batch IPS officer Pandey, an audit company linked to his family, and others, including former National Stock Exchange managing director Chitra Ramakrishna.
The CBI is probing how the audit company — iSec Services Pvt Ltd or ISEC that Pandey had incorporated in 2001 — did not red flag that the exchange’s servers were compromised.
The ED represented by Additional Solicitor General SV Raju and Special Public Prosecutor NK Matta had moved a 14-day remand application. Raju told the court that it was significant that when the company was incorporated, Pandey was still in service.
“Even if he was not a director, he was in control of the company. He conducted meetings, attended meetings with NSE, and we have evidence to that effect. Cyber vulnerability was a facade. That was not why the interception of call records was made,” Raju told the court.
The ASG told the court that hacking of MTNL telephone lines was illegal. He submitted that the ED has found Rs 4.54 crore which was “paid as proceeds of crime” and that the agency needed to track this money trail.
Pandey’s lawyer told the court that his company was “trying to spruce up the cyber vulnerability of the NSE” and asked the court to look at the monitoring reports filed by ISEC with the NSE.
The judge asked whether this meant they can tap into telephone calls. Pandey’s lawyer told the court that the NSE consented to record the telephone calls. The judge said that the Telegraph Act does not permit the tapping of phone calls.
Pandey’s lawyer told the court, “Recording itself was not done by ISEC. It was done by some other organisation. I went through transcripts and gave them (NSE) reports. My involvement was removed.”
“This is an act of political vendetta (against Pandey),” his lawyer told the court.
Pandey spoke to the judge directly and said he did not tap phones in the NSE. “The project that ISEC was involved in was called analysis of recorded calls. We never did any tapping or any live monitoring. We neither had equipment nor were told to tap. Every recording was done by the NSE. Machine installed in the NSE and they are the ones who tapped. What is my culpability?,” Pandey told the court.
The ED investigating officer, however, told the court that “machinery for tapping of telephone lines was installed by them (ISEC).”
Recollecting the ED allegations, the judge said, “Still you had this knowledge that phone tapping is going on. You were directly or indirectly involved in the matter. They have a reason to say this.”