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Officers accused of illegalities in hackers’ probe denied anticipatory bail

The accused in those cases — Sriki and Khandelwal — were in police custody. The prosecution alleges that instead of investigating the crime related to hacking and under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act as required, the petitioner officers actually recovered Bitcoins.
Last Updated : 01 May 2024, 21:06 IST
Last Updated : 01 May 2024, 21:06 IST

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has refused anticipatory bail to two senior police officers, reportedly absconding, in the case pertaining to illegalities while investigating hacker Sri Krishna alias Sriki and Robin Khandelwal.

Justice Rajendra Badamikar dismissed the petitions filed by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Shridhar K Pujar and Police Inspector SR Chandradhara, investigating officers in different crimes registered at the Cottonpet and KG Nagar police stations.

The accused in those cases — Sriki and Khandelwal — were in police custody. The prosecution alleges that instead of investigating the crime related to hacking and under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act as required, the petitioner officers actually recovered Bitcoins.

The prosecution argued that while the first mahazar, dated January 8, 2021, indicated the recovery of 31 Bitcoins valued at Rs 9 crore, a subsequent mahazar,  dated January 22, 2021, was drawn up suggesting that it was merely a live exchange with no actual recovery. Both mahazars were conducted by a private expert from a firm, whereas the officers were supposed to engage the services of the cyber wing of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The prosecution claimed that rather than investigating the registered crimes, the officers misappropriated Bitcoins valued at Rs 9 crore. It was also asserted that while nano ledgers were obtained, no explanation was provided for their acquisition. The prosecution said all those aspects must be thoroughly investigated and destroyed data must be recovered.

The court said the petitioner officers must explain why they opted to engage a private expert to draw up the mahazar, pointing out that nothing had stopped them from utilising the services of the cyber wing of the CID instead. It also mentioned that Sriki could not have sent an email to his friend while in police custody without the investigating officer’s assistance.

"The WhatsApp messages also disclose recovery of the Bitcoins, but now a different case has been put forward as if no Bitcoins were recovered. Even an email discloses that though the accused Sri Krishna was in police custody, he was capable of sending an email to his friend, disclosing his comforts and providing him all the facilities. This act clearly discloses that the petitioners, instead of investigating the crime, have used the accused — Robin Khandelwal and Sri Krishna alias Sriki — to have unlawful gain for transfer of Bitcoins and subsequently, they were found to be missing,” Justice Badamikar said.

"The petitioners are police officers holding a high position, so there are higher chances of manipulating the records as well as destruction of the evidence, as there is already an allegation of attempt of destruction of the evidence. Hence, looking at the facts and circumstances, both the petitions being devoid of any merit, do not survive for consideration and need to be rejected.”

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Published 01 May 2024, 21:06 IST

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