Fri, 24 Mar 2023

New Delhi [India], March 17 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday granted bail to Delhi-based Shakti Bhog Foods Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Kewal Krishan Kumar in a money laundering case.

The High Court granted relief considering the age of the accused and his medical history. It also noted the fact that the investigation related to the accused is complete but the chargesheet has not been filed yet. He has been in custody for the last 18 months.

While granting bail to Kumar, the High Court said that a person who is infirm would still be entitled to seek the benefit of the exceptions in the proviso to Section 45 (1) PMLA Act.

"Since 'sick' and 'infirm' are separated by 'or', consequently, a person who, though, not sick but infirm would still be entitled to seek the benefit of the exception in the proviso to section 45(1) PMLA and vice-versa," Justice Jasmeet Singh said in the judgement.

"Mere old age does not make a person 'infirm' to fall within section 45(1) proviso. Infirmity is defined as not something that is only relatable to age but must consist of a disability which incapacitates a person to perform ordinary routine activities on a day-to-day basis," the Court observed.

Justice Singh also referred to the lexicon meaning of "infirm" in Stroud's Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases, Eight Edition connotes infirmity as "some permanent disease, accident, or something of that kind".

The High Court noted that a perusal of the Applicant's medical records shows that he has had seizure disorders and mild behavioural disorder (BPAD) which coupled with old age is a cause of concern. Requiring an attendant for quotidian activities further goes to show the seriousness of the Applicant"s infirmities.

The Counsel for the accused informed the court that the Applicant is 70 years of age and has a chronic medical history having undergone bariatric surgery and a chronic case of varicose veins and is functioning with 20 per cent stomach capacity due to bariatric surgery. In addition, he has gallbladder stones (Cholelithiasis). The Applicant is also suffering from seizure and behavioural disorders and hypertension.

The High Court also noted that the accused was arrested in the present case on July 4,2021. He was on interim bail for a period of 31 days from June 10, 2022 to July 11, 2022 on medical grounds. The application for an extension of interim bail was rejected and pursuant thereto, the applicant surrendered.

As per the allegations levelled by Enforcement Directorate, on December 31, 2020, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered an FIR on the complaint of the State Bank of India against the applicant and other accused Persons regarding bank fraud committed during 2013-2017.

The allegations were that Shakti Bhog Foods Limited (SBFL), where the applicant was one of the directors, promoter and guarantor and had availed of various loan facilities from a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India from 2006 onwards, and in order to acquire more loan funds from Banks, the company resorted to round-tripping and money laundering using its various group companies as platforms.

It was further alleged that SBFL had rotated its funds to group companies in the form of share investment, share application money, share premium, inter-corporate deposits, compulsorily convertible debentures, loans and advances and inter-group purchases with the sole intent to launder and change colour of these loan funds from liabilities to assets.

The role ascribed to the Applicant in the prosecution complaint is that the Applicant was a director, guarantor and promoter of SBFL. He in cohorts with other accused persons generated and acquired proceeds of crime by availing loan from a consortium of banks after submitting fake invoices of shell companies, fake transport documents for LC payments, forged and inflated financials and Monthly Stock Statements/ DP Statements. He knowingly and deliberately concealed the actual financial condition of the group companies from lending banks and misled them to sanction credit facilities and loans.

The agency alleged that the accused diverted the funds released by the banks to group companies and the disbursed funds were utilised for purposes other than for which it was sanctioned, thereby cheating the banks.

He was also instrumental in routing and re-routing the borrowed funds through group companies and shell companies and ultimately used for purchasing of various assets, ED said.

The complaint stated that the applicant was a master of the entire scheme to dupe the banks of public money. He was a direct beneficiary of the proceeds of crime and therefore, liable for the offence under section 3 PMLA. (ANI)

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