The Delhi High Court on Wednesday has issued notice to the Centre and others on a plea seeking a probe by multiple investigating agencies into the alleged biggest franchise scam of India which has duped many people of their hard-earned money to the tune of Rs 30 crore.
A single-judge bench headed by Justice Anu Malhotra has issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Finance, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and the Commissioner of Delhi Police. The Court has sought their reply by April 22.
The petitions have been filed by BJP spokesperson and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay alleging that despite multiple requests made to the police, nothing was done till yet. He said, “It is a crystal clear case of money laundering, benami transactions, bribery and black money.”
In one of the petitions, the petitioners have alleged that they have been cheated and duped by Westland Trade Private Limited. It is stated in the petition that Westland Trade Private Limited is a fake company which floated with other bogus and ghost companies like Hyper Supermarket, Hyper Mart, Big Mart, Super Mart, Louies Salon, Midnight Cafe, Franchisee World, BM Mart, H Mart and S Mart Etc.
In the other plea the petitioners have contended that directors-partners of DBM Retails Private Limited in collision with ROC Staff, Bank Employees, Charted Accountant & State Police had created around one hundred ghost companies for money laundering, benami transactions, black money hoarding, dishonesty inducing delivery of property, concealment of property and dishonest misappropriation of properties of innocent citizens.
The pleas said, “Petitioners right to trade guaranteed under Article 19 and right to life guaranteed under Article 21 has been severely infringed and fair and speedy trial is impossible without fair and complete investigation.”
“The scam has national and international ramifications as this is the biggest franchisee scam of India, done in the name of Startup India, which is well-known scheme, launched by the Centre,” it said.
The petitioners have sought directions for “…investigation by CBI, ED, SFIO, EOW or an SIT consisting officers of CBI, ED, SFIO, EOW & Crime Branch to investigate bribery, criminal conspiracy, money laundering, benami transactions, black money hoarding, fraud including corporate fraud, cheating, forgery, criminal breach of trust, dishonestly inducing delivery of property, cheating by personation, counterfeiting, falsification of accounts, concealment of property, dishonest misappropriation of property and violation of Income Tax and corporate laws by the owners, directors, partners and other beneficiaries of DBM Retails Pvt Ltd.”
The petitioners have submitted; “…Under well planned criminal conspiracy, directors-partners in collusion with ROC Staff, Bank employees, CA & Police had created around hundreds of ghost companies for money laundering, benami transactions, black money hoarding, dishonestly inducing property, concealment & dishonest misappropriation of petitioners’ property.”
It is stated in the pleas that this is not a common case of cheating or dishonesty but the “biggest Franchisee Scam of India, committed by an organized international racket of money launderers, cheaters and fraudsters.”
The petitioners have opined that Investigation by the CBI, ED, SFIO is essential because under a well planned criminal conspiracy, the directors deceived the petitioners inducing them to deliver their hard earned money thereby causing injury to not only mind body reputation and property but also offended right to trade and life, guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21.
It said that the bogus companies are pawns and real criminal conspirators are high profile powerful politicians. Hence, an investigation by the CBI is essential.
The Supreme Court had earlier issued notice on the pleas but later called it a “mistake” and asked the petitioners to approach the High Court. “We had made a mistake by issuing notice in this… We don’t have a problem admitting our mistake,” the bench said in the proceedings conducted through video conferencing. “We are not saying anything on merits. We are not going to adjudicate this,” said the Apex Court in its order dated 08.02.2021.