Bombay High Court Refuses Anticipatory Bail for Two Accused in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve Booking Scam

LI Network

Published on: January 24, 2024 at 11:00 IST

The Bombay High Court has denied anticipatory bail to two individuals accused in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve Booking Scam.

In a recent development, the Nagpur Bench addressed a criminal application under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), where the accused sought anticipatory bail for alleged offenses under Sections 420, 406, and 409, read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Justice Urmila Joshi-Phalke, presiding over a single bench, emphasized, “Considering the role of applicants in the crime having involved enormous and huge amount, siphoning of the amount and fabrication of digital data, and the investigation revealing the manner in which the forest department is duped and the government money is at stake, the role of the applicants is clearly exposed.”

The accused, partners of the firm “Wild Connectivity Solutions (WCS),” entered into an agreement with the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve Conservation Foundation (TATR) for online bookings of “Jungle Safari” in 2021.

The Divisional Forest Officer of TATR lodged a complaint, alleging that the accused violated terms and conditions by not depositing the amount of Rs. 12,15,50,831, thereby duping the Government Forest Department.

The court noted, “… if facts of the present case are taken into consideration, it reveals that not only there is an allegation of siphoning the amount but also there is an allegation of fabrication of the electronic record.”

The Court highlighted the non-cooperation of the accused in providing necessary data for investigation, emphasizing the need for custodial interrogation.

The Court further observed that, despite attempts at communication, the applicants did not respond, and the entire data related to transactions was in their possession.

It stated, “The entire data is lying with applicants, and after sufficient opportunity being provided to them, they have not produced the same. Thus, it is apparent that there is no cooperation from applicants and applicants are claiming relief of anticipatory bail.”

While acknowledging the importance of anticipatory bail as a tool to prevent misuse of arrest power, the Court asserted that the discretion must consider the gravity of the offense and the impact on society.

The Court rejected the application, citing the need for custodial interrogation to ascertain transaction details and the lack of cooperation from the accused.

Cause Title: Abhishek s/o Vinodsingh Thakur and anr. v. State of Maharashtra

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