Supreme Court grants bail in a cheating case to Former DGM of Manipal Group
The Supreme Court of India (SC) granted bail to Sandeep Gururaj, (former Deputy General Manager) of the Manipal Education and Medical Group accused of siphoning off Rs 70 crore from the company accounts
A bench presided over by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul noted that the supplementary charge sheet had been filed in the case and the former DGM had been in jail for over two years. The SC also considered that no public money was involved in the matter and that "whatever was alleged against the appellant was continuing for almost 4-5 years".
Vaitheswaran S, CEO of the Manipal Group, had lodged a complaint in Bengaluru police station against the former DGM. It was alleged that he was involved in cheating and diversion of huge funds through shell companies created abroad. The company claimed that Gururaj must bring in some money as he did not make fair disclosure of his assets.
He has been in custody since 26 December 2018. The first charge sheet was filed against him on 26 March 2019; a supplementary charge sheet was filed on 14 September 2019. However, further time was sought by the police to file a final charge sheet.
Sandeep Gururaj (accused) filed a criminal appeal for seeking bail before the SC. He contended that "He was being made a scapegoat arising from what appeared in the public domain in "paradise papers" where the conduct of the management was being called into question in respect of mobilization of resources through offshore entities". It was further submitted that none of his assets was in his control.
The bail of Gururaj was strongly opposed by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on the grounds he might flee from justice and abscond. It was further submitted that the amount involved in the matter was not brought back while some of the co-accused were still absconding.
The bench, stated, "We are inclined to grant bail to the appellant." It further added that, "We would not like to further comment on the merits of the controversy as that has the propensity to affect the trial. Suffice to say that that the assets in the country of the appellant are attached, his passport is stated to be with the complainant company which shall be deposited in Court, and no public money is involved."
In December, the High Court of Karnataka (HC) has told the Karnataka police that it would grant no further time beyond January 2021 to complete the investigation against Gururaj. He challenged the HC's order of 25 September 2020, declining him the relief.
The SC granted the bail on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Trial Court. It further added, "The fact that the appellant is being called to trial for criminal offenses is a matter which would be adjudicated during the criminal trial and the only endeavour can be is to ensure that the appellant remains within the country to face the trial."