Sunday, August 14, 2022

Anticipatory bail plea of SpiceJet promoter rejected:Delhi Court

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A Delhi court has dismissed the anticipatory bail plea filed by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh in relation to a fraud case.

The case against Ajay Singh is based on the complaint filed by Delhi-based businessman, Sanjiv Nanda which said that Singh defrauded the complainant  by not honouring a share-purchase agreement. It is related to the transfer of 10 lakh shares of the airline to a businessman.

According to the complainant , a share-purchase agreement between Singh and Nanda’s family was entered into for the transfer of a total of 25 lakh fully paid-up shares of SpiceJet towards Nanda’s family members.

The Delhi Police subsequently filed a case against the airline promoter at the Hauz Khas station under Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the IPC.

Singh had moved the court seeking protection from arrest in the case after non-bailable warrants were issued against him in January for failing to appear before the police for investigation.

In the District Court, Counsel for the Singh  submitted that the accused (Ajay Singh) vide letter dated 10.10.2019, while responding to complainant’s letter dated 01.10.2019 requested that the stance of complainant to proceed ahead with the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) was immature as the Conditions Precedent as mentioned therein was not yet fulfilled. It is also submitted that the dispute is civil in nature and the agreement provides a ‘Dispute Resolution’ clause and the entire dispute between the parties is based on documentary evidence.

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Per contra, the Additional Public Prosecutor for State argued that the accused  had dishonestly handed over the expired Delivery Instructions Slips  (DIS)  knowingly well that the same would be rejected by the Depository Participant. It is further argued that the accused  has not effectively joined the investigation and has not provided documentation in support of his contentions and there is every risk of him tampering with evidence and likely to evade the proceedings. On these grounds, a prayer was made that no ground is made out for grant of anticipatory bail.

The   Additional Sessions Judge Vineeta Goyal observed that the accused was in litigation (Arbitration Proceedings) with the erstwhile promoters of Spice Jet which ended in the favour of the accused. Further, the said award was challenged before High Court which is pending but there is allegedly no stay that has been granted in this case.

The investigating officer in his status report dated 28.03.2022 has clearly mentioned that the DIS given to the complainant was issued from the booklet issued to the accused  which was declared invalid after 07.01.2014. It is further mentioned in the report that the accused during interrogation on 11.03.2022 on this point submitted that slips were given to the complainant in the year 2015 but he failed to explain against which work these were given as security in 2015. It is further submitted that the accused also pledged shares of SpiceJet thrice on 25.03.2015, 20.04.2015 and 30.11.2017.

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The Court noted  that the accused has not stated the occasion on which such deposit slips were handed over to the complainant because SPA-I and SPA-II were entered subsequently. Moreover, both these agreements do not find mention of having handed over any DIS to the complainant by the accused even though as security. The handing of DIS which is outdated is a serious and grave offence. All these aspects are matters of dispute and require investigation. The investigating officer also submitted that the present FIR has been transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the investigation is in progress.

The Court cited the  Supreme Court order in State Rep. by the CBI vs. Anil Sharma (1997) 7 SCC 187, which recognized the fact that in same cases custodial interrogation is qualitatively more elicitation-oriented than questioning a suspect who is well ensconced with a favourable order u/s 438 of the Code. 
The concept was reiterated in P. Chidambaram vs. Directorate of Enforcement reported as (2019) 9 SCC 24, stating that grant of anticipatory bail at the stage of investigation may frustrate the investigating agency in interrogating the accused and in collecting the useful information and also the materials which might have been concealed. Success in such interrogation would elude if the accused knows that he is protected by the order of the Court.

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“Under these overall facts and circumstances and considering the gravity of offence and the aforementioned ratiocination held, this Court does not find sufficient ground to grant the relief sought in the application filed by the accused / applicant and the same is accordingly, dismissed. Interim order provided by this Court vide order dated 09.03.2022 stands vacated. However, any expression given in the present order would not tantamount to be any final opinion on the merits of the case”

-the order reads.

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