A Delhi Court today rejected the bail plea moved by former CMD of Bhushan Power & Steel, Sanjay Singal in the money laundering case arising out of the bank fraud case.
The order was passed by Special Judge (PC Act) Arun Bhardwaj.
Singal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last month and was subsequently remanded to judicial custody.
Bhushan Power & Steel had taken loans to the tune of Rs 47,204 crore from banks and had subsequently defaulted in the payment schedule.
It is the investigating agencies' case that Singal, along with other accused and some unknown public servants of banks, hatched a criminal conspiracy to cheat the banks, financial institutions and the government exchequer.
It is alleged that Singal and others dishonestly and fraudulently diverted a huge amount of bank funds through shell companies etc and deliberately defaulted in payment, which caused wrongful loss to the lending banks/financial institutions.
Based on the above, in April, 2019, CBI had registered a case under Section 120B IPC read with Sections 420, 468, 471 and 477A IPC and Sections 13(2), 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Sanjay Singal and others. Subsequently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also filed an ECIR to investigate the money laundering charge.
Before the Court, Singal argued that there was no need for his further custody as the ED was aleady in possession of the documentary evidence and a provisional order of attachment had also been passed by the PMLA Adjudicating Authority.
Relying on the Supreme Court's judgement in P Chidambaram vs ED, Singal added that even if the allegation was one of a grave economic offence, it was not a rule that bail should be denied in every case and that the triple test should normally be applied to decide question of grant of bail.
ED, on the other hand, argued that Singal remained evasive and did not cooperate with the investigation. It was added that the proceeds of crime were yet to be identified and that the investigation was ongoing.
After hearing the parties, the Court opined that Singal was not a flight risk as he had deep roots in the society and was also not in the position to commit the similar offences as he was also no more the CMD of Bhushan Power and Steel.
The Court, however, noted that Singal and other accused in the CBI case deleted certain electronic data, which obstructed the investigation.
It thus remarked,
"..even if the allegation is one of grave economic offence, it is not a rule that bail should be denied in every case, but the facts of the case are such that the applicant be not released on bail. The facts of this case show that the applicant being the CMD of M/s BPSL has played a key role. Even after takign the offer of M/S JSW Steel of Rs. 19,500 crore into consideration, the fact remains that the accued has to account for Rs 27,704 crore as the toal loan amount defautled by M/S BPSL is Rs 47,204 crore.
Such offences have deletrious effect on the economy of the country which ultimately effcts everyone and have worse effects for the last man in the row."
The Court also rejeceted Singal's defence that in case of offences punishable by seven years or less, the amount of economic loss should not be considered as a factor while determining bail.
The Court therefore rejected Singal's application for bail as it ordered,
"Considering the allegation of deletion of electronic data by the applicant, the quantum of amount involved in this case and the role played by the applicant, in the opinion of this Court, the applicant is not entitled to bail."
ED was represented Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana with Advocate A R Aditya.
Singal was represented by Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra.
Following default in payment of bank loans, Bhushan Power & Steel was declared as one of the 12 big NPAs in the country and was dragged to the NCLT under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code by its creditors. JSW Steel Ltd’s resolution plan for the debt-ridden company was approved by NCLT earlier this year.
Read the Order: