The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted bail to former Religare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh in a money laundering case related to alleged fraud in Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL) and held that "keeping an undertrial in jail seriously jeopardises the preparation of his legal defence."
"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," the bench said.
A single judge bench of the high court presided by Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani while granting bail to Singh directed him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 1 crore and two sureties of Rs 25 lakh each.
The court also directed Singh to surrender his passport and directed him not to leave the country without permission of the Special Court and he shall ordinarily reside in his place of residence as per prison records.
"The applicant shall furnish to the Investigating Officer a cell phone number on which the applicant may be contacted at any time and shall ensure that the number is kept active and switched on at all times," the court said.
Shivinder Singh was also ordered to neither directly nor indirectly contact, 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," the bench said.
The court has ordered the Investigating Officer (I/O) to issue a request to the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs to forthwith open a 'Look-out-Circular' in the applicant's (Shivinder) name, to prevent him from leaving the country, without the permission of the court.
However, the bench clarified that nothing in this judgment is to be taken as an expression of opinion on the merits of the pending complaint.
"It is also clarified that the observations in this judgment shall have no bearing on the cases against other accused persons, which cases shall be considered on their own merits," the bench said.
Even though he has been granted bail, Shivinder Singh will not walk out of jail as he has also been booked in an alleged fraud case by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police.
During the hearing, Singh's counsel advocate N. Hariharan had submitted that the ED has already filed its prosecution complaint in the case and therefore no purpose would be served by keeping his client in further custody as "the evidence in the case was documentary in nature," he added.
The ED had, in January, filed a charge sheet against Shivinder Mohan Singh, former Fortis Healthcare promoter Malvinder Mohan Singh and former Religare CMD Sunil Godhwani in a money laundering case related to alleged misappropriation of funds at Religare Finvest Limited (RFL).
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.
It is the ED's contention that out of the said sum of about Rs 2,036 crore, investigation is complete in relation to about Rs 450 crore, while investigation into the remaining amount is still ongoing.
Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL) had filed a complaint against certain individuals who were directors on the Lakshmi Vilas Bank board and certain employees involved in the transactions along with individuals who were directors and officials of the Shivinder and Malvinder Mohan Singh-owned RHC Holdings and Ranchem for alleged breach of trust, cheating and misappropriation of funds.
Both Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh earlier owned Religare Enterprises, the parent company of Religare Finvest Ltd. The EOW filed a case on September 23, 2019 and filed the chargesheet before the trial court on March 23 this year.
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