Thursday, September 28, 2023

Allahabad High Court orders release of FD, property papers of PNB Bank Manager held in cheating case

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The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court did not accept the confiscation of FD of Rs 10 lakh and records of land deed of Punjab National Bank Meerut Road Ghaziabad Branch Manager D.K. Gupta in the case of cheating and criminal conspiracy, and quashed the order of the Special Court Ghaziabad, which refused to release it.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed this order while hearing a Criminal Revision filed by Gupta.

The revision under Section 397 read with Section 401 CrPC has been filed against the order dated 05.10.2019 passed by Special Judge, Anti Corruption (CBI) Ghaziabad in Criminal Misc Case arising out of FIR under Sections 420, 120B, 467, 468, 471 IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(D) Prevention of Corruption Act, P.S CBI, ACB Ghaziabad.

The trial court has rejected the application of the revisionist filed under Section 457 CrPC for release of his FDR Account dated 5th October, 2018 for an amount of Rs 10 lakh, which was taken for a period of 12 months as well as the registered sale deed of his property measuring 167.2 Square Meter situated at Khata, Khet purchased by him from Dungarmal Housing Society, Aligarh in the year 1988.

The trial court rejected the said application on the ground that the investigation is still on and the CBI is yet to file the charge sheet/final report under Section 173 (2) CrPC.

The facts of the case are that the applicant was posted as Branch Manager in Punjab National Bank, Meerut Road Branch, Ghaziabad from 13th November, 2014 to 2nd November, 2016.

The allegation against the accused-revisionist is that he entered into a criminal conspiracy with some private person who posted himself to be Kishan Kumar, Proprietor M/s Kanha Sales Corporation purportedly trading in Electrical goods, hardware etc having address Floor New Panchvati, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and 9-Rehatuiya, Aonla, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

It is alleged that in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy, the revisionist on 4th December, 2015 allowed the opening of a current Account with Punjab National Bank, Meerut Road, Branch Ghaziabad in favour of said Kishan Kumar Proprietor of Kanha Sales Corporation, on the basis of forged/fake documents which included the Voter’s ID Card, falsely shown to have been issued by Electoral Officer, Bareilly.

Further allegation is that the revisionist grossly abused his official position and openly flouted the instructions of Reserve Bank of India and Punjab National Bank in respect of the opening current account and deliberately violated the mandatory provisions of Know Your Customer (KYC) norms/ Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards/ Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT)/Obligation of banks under PMLA, 2002.

It is alleged that with a view to prevent the storage of unaccounted wealth through high denomination of bank notes, circulation of high denomination fake currency and its use for financing subversive activities, the Government of India vide Notification dated 8th November, 2016 published in the Gazette of India, declared that the bank notes of denomination of the existing series of the value of 500/- Rs and 1,000/- Rs shall ceased to be legal tender w.e.f 9th November, 2016.

It was further alleged that in contravention of guidelines dated 8th November, 2016 of the Government of India/RBI, the revisionist who was posted at Punjab National Bank, Meerut Road Branch, Ghaziabad during the relevant period, in collusion with said Kishan Kumar abused his official position and facilitated the deposit of a sum of Rs 58,50,000/- in the current account in the name of the said Kishan Kumar, on different dates between 16.11.2016 to 18.11.2016.

It is alleged that the revisionist’s aforesaid acts of omission and commission, prima-facie constitute offences punishable under Sections 120-B, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(D) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Counsel for the revisionist submitted that the revisionist was transferred from the said Branch of Punjab National Bank where he was posted from 13th November, 2014 to 2nd November, 2016 itself. The demonetization notification was issued on 8th November, 2016 and the said Kishan Kumar deposited the banned demonetized notes of Rs 500 and Rs 100 between 16th November, 2016 to 18th November, 2016.

Counsel for the revisionist further submitted that the FD Account is from his retirement dues which he received from the bank and the property of which the registered sale deed has been seized is of the year 1988.

He, therefore, submitted that he cannot be held responsible for making deposition of Rs 58,50,000/- by Kishan Kumar and the best case against the revisionist can be of negligence and dereliction of duty but no offence can be said to have been committed for which the FIR came to be registered.

Counsel for the CBI in its reply has not denied the fact that the revisionist was transferred on 2nd November, 2016 from the concerned Branch.

“The C.B.I has not been able to complete the investigation in more than three years and considering aforesaid fact, I am of the view that the seizure of Fixed Deposit (FD) and the property documents of the revisionist are not justified”, the Court observed while allowing the revision.

“The impugned order dated 05.10.2019 passed by Special Judge, Anti Corruption (CBI) Ghaziabad is quashed. It is directed that the petitioner’s FD of Rs 10 lakh and the seized registered sale deed of 1988, in respect of property shall be released to him forthwith,” the Court ordered.

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