From The Courts

July 24, 2020

Delhi HC Grants Bail To Former Ranbaxy Promoter Shivinder Singh in money laundering case

[ by Legal Era News Network ]


The Delhi High Court on July 23 has granted bail to Shivinder Singh, former promoter of Ranbaxy Laboratories and Fortis Healthcare in the Religare Finvest Limited (RFL) money laundering case registered against him. Singh along with his brother Malvinder and Sunil Godhani are also accused of committing a financial fraud upon Religare Finvest when they were running the firm.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani directed Singh to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 1 crore and two sureties of Rs. 25 lakhs each. Court noted that keeping an undertrial in jail seriously jeopardizes the preparation of his legal defence which in turn will deny him the right to fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Judge also directed the investigating officer of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to request the Bureau of Immigration to open LOC in Shivinder’s name to prevent any unannounced exit from the country.

Shivinder Singh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on December 12, 2019 and was remanded to 14 days custody. Thereafter, he was sent to judicial custody. According to ED, RFL extended loan and other financial facilities to various entities to the tune of about Rs. 47,000 crores, of which a sum of around Rs. 2036.39 crores went into default; and this amount was given by RFL to entities which were, directly or indirectly, owned or controlled by the applicant, or in which the applicant otherwise had financial interest, including companies linked to RHC.

It was also alleged that the monies received from RFL by entities owned or controlled by the applicant, were given onwards by such entities to RHC and its group companies, which companies used these very funds to pay-back monies they owed to RFL. It is accordingly the allegation that the applicant utilised monies received indirectly from RFL, to repay loans that his other companies owed to RFL itself.

Basically, the essential thrust of the allegations is that the applicant has misappropriated or ‘siphoned-off’ monies lent by RFL to entities owned or controlled by him, or which were otherwise part of the RHC group companies;

Appearing on behalf of the applicant, Senior Advocate N Hariharan submitted that as ED has already filed its chargesheet in the matter, no purpose will be achieved by the continued incarceration of Shivinder Singh.

“Further incarceration of the applicant would militate against the fundamental postulate of presumption of innocence; and would be in violation of the fundamental principle that bail is the rule and jail an exception”, Adv Hariharan argued.

Whereas, appearing on behalf of ED, Amit Mahajan contended that finding the trail of money which was diverted via a complex web of transactions is not easy and if the applicant is discharged on bail, he will try to influence the said case and interfere with the process.

Refusing to accept ED’s contentions, Justice Bhambani observed-

“It is beyond contention that the consequences of pre-trial detention are deleterious; and that keeping an undertrial in jail seriously jeopardises the preparation of his legal defence. If kept in custody, the applicant will not be able to effectively brief and consult with his lawyers, collate evidence in his defence and thereby defend himself effectively. Thereby the applicant will be denied his right to fair trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution (cf. Moti Ram and Babu Singh, supra).”

Furthermore, Court said-

“In light of the above, there seems to be no rationale for continuing the applicant’s judicial custody as an undertrial in this case. As far as the possibility of the applicant committing any further offence is concerned, that ground is purely speculative and conjectural. So is the possibility of the applicant offering any inducement, threat or promise to any prosecution witness or other such person. As observed above, the possibility of the applicant absconding also appears to be farfetched and can be addressed by imposing appropriate conditions of bail.”

Thus, apart furnishing a bond and two sureties, the bail was granted under the following conditions-

(i) The applicant shall surrender his passport to the Designated/Special Court;

ii) The applicant shall not leave the country without permission of the Designated/Special Court and shall ordinarily reside in his place of residence as per prison records;

(iii) The applicant shall not, whether directly or indirectly, contact nor visit nor offer any inducement, threat or promise to any of the prosecution witnesses or other persons acquainted with the facts of the case. The applicant shall not tamper with evidence nor otherwise indulge in any act or omission that is unlawful or that would prejudice the proceedings in the matter;

(iv) It is specifically directed that the applicant shall also not, whether directly or indirectly, contact or visit or have any transaction with any of the officials/employees of the banks, financial institutions, entities etc., who are concerned with the complaint in this case, whether in India or abroad. ED is also directed to issue written intimation to such officials/employees to not engage in any manner with the applicant.

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