A court here on Saturday granted bail to Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, ex-promoters of realty major Unitech, in a case in which they have been accused of swindling home buyers, saying the nature and enormity of the offence have to be balanced with the fundamental right of the alleged offender to ensure a speedy trial.
Additional Sessions Judge Navjeet Budhiraja passed the order on the bail applications of the Chandra brothers against whom the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police have registered an FIR for cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
The duo will, however, will continue to remain in jail as they are accused in a money laundering case.
The court said in an economic offence, the nature and severity of the allegations, the amount involved and the number of investors affected are the factors that influence its decision to grant bail.
But, in a case where the accused have undergone a long period of incarceration and further inquiry and trial are likely to take considerable time owing to the humongous number of witnesses, the aspect of “nature and enormity of the offence has to be balanced out with the aspect of the fundamental right of the offender to ensure a speedy trial”, it said.
The court said the duo was behind bars for more than six years and one of the charges against them under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) prescribed a maximum punishment of up to seven years.
It said the number of witnesses cited by the prosecution was more than 240 and their examination would take substantial time considering the “overflowing dockets of the courts.”
“…The nature of the evidence (against them) being documentary in nature and there being no adverse report of the applicants having tampered with the evidence, the fact that in all the FIRs except the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case as informed, the applicants are already on bail, in my confirmed opinion, the case is now made out for grant of regular bail to the applicants,” ASJ Budhiraja said.
The court directed the duo to furnish bail bonds of Rs 5 lakh each with two sureties of the like amount.
It clarified that nothing in the order should be taken as the court expressing its opinion on
the merits of the case.
The prosecution opposed the bail pleas, saying the former promoters of Unitech cannot claim leniency on grounds of time they have spent in custody.
Defence counsel Vishal Gosain, however, said the duo satisfied the test for grant of bail as laid down by the apex court.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had allowed the former Unitech promoters to move the competent district court for regular bail.
The top court had in March 2021 set aside an order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Patiala House Court granting them bail. It had directed the two to surrender to Tihar Jail authorities.
The Chandra brothers are currently lodged in two separate jails in Mumbai on the apex court’s direction.