-Report by Harshit Gupta
Anticipatory bail was granted to all accused in the case of Mahmood Bava V. Central Bureau of Investigation decided on 20-03-2023.
This case involves many accused, who were booked under sections 420, 466, 467 471 read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and section 13(2) read with section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. In this case, M/s. NaftoGaz India Pvt Ltd. secured a loan from a consortium of banks led by SBI. After 27.07.2012 the account of the bank was showing signs of sickness and on 22.11.2012, the account was classified as NPA, and on 03.02.2015, the account was declared fraudulent account. One property as security was found to be in litigation and another property was overvalued. Thereafter, the Loan Company lodged the FIR on 26.06.2019, and none of the accused was taken into custody by CBI. It seemed to the court that each accused cooperated in the investigation and the final report was filed by CBI on 31.12.2021, and after this, special courts issued summons for the appearance of all accused in the court on 07.03.2022. Therefore, apprehending arrest, the appellants moved to the special court with the application of Anticipatory Bail, which was rejected by the said Court and was confirmed by the High Court of Allahabad. Therefore, the Appellants approached Supreme Court.
Accused no. 2, Shri Mahdoom Bava, is stated to be the promoter/director of the Company and he is alleged to be the kingpin. Accused no. 3, Shri Deepak Gupta is a third party who has allegedly given his personal guarantee. According to the prosecution, he claimed title to the property based on fictitious documents and he sold away some proportions of his property before the mortgage. Accused No. 10 was alleged to have created bogus bills and fake lorry receipts, in connivance with accused No. 2, to enable the Company to have the bills discounted. Accused 14 namely Yatish Sharma was alleged to have operated the account of M/s Shri Radhey Traders. The respondent also contended that the prime accused, no. 2, Mahdoom Bava, is also involved in 11 other cases.
In this, the judgement was delivered by Justice V. Rama Subramanian by granting SLP, as the criminal appeal arose from the SLPs. The judgement was so delivered and granted anticipatory bail to the accused on the basis that they cooperated through the investigation, and they would do so in future if they were summoned during the trial. The prayer of anticipatory bail was opposed vehemently by the respondent. But the court was of the view that there were three factors which tilted the balance in the favour of the accused. Factor one was that the custody of all accused was not required during the investigation, therefore, it is now hard to digest that custody is now required at this stage. Factor two is that in the case of Shree Deepak Gupta, CBI took the stand before the special court that the presence of the accused during the investigation is not required but it will surely need during the trial. Therefore, the Apex Court considered this as the only presence of all accused is required not the custody during the trial to face the trial. Factor three the Apex Court considered is that the complaint is borne out of records and the primary focus is on documentary evidence, so the court did not understand the arrest of all accused during this time as the offence was committed a decade ago. In the respondent’s contention of 11 cases, appeal arouse from 3 cases and 7 were of 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The eighth case is filed by an income tax officer for non-payment of the TDS amount. In this case, anticipatory bail was granted by the Court to all accused based on the findings of the Court.
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