Delhi HC upholds bail granted to DHFL’s Wadhawans in loan scam case

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld the statutory bail granted to former Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) promoters Kapil Wadhawan and his brother Dheeraj in connection with a multi-crore rupees bank loan scam case, holding the decision to grant them bail was “based on good reasoning and logic”.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma dismissed the petition filed by the CBI challenging the trial court order of December 3 last year.

The judge also said the charge sheet filed by the agency was incomplete and terming it as a “final report” on investigation to deny statutory bail to the accused would be against the law and the Constitution.

The criminal procedure code (CrPC) mandates that an accused shall be released on bail if the investigation is not completed within the stipulated time.

“This Court is of the considered opinion that the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the present case is an incomplete/ piecemeal charge sheet and terming the same as a final report under section 173 (2) Cr.PC. merely to ruse the statutory and fundamental right of default bail to the accused shall negate the provision under Section 167 Cr. PC and will also be against the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” said the court.

“There is no illegality or perversity in the order of the learned Sessions Judge.. Accordingly, the order dated 03.12.2022 passed by Ld. Special Judge, P.C. Act, Rouse Avenue District Courts, New Delhi, is upheld. The present petition is dismissed,” ordered the court.

Wadhawan brothers were arrested in this case on July 19 last year.

The court, in its 53-page order, observed that the right to speedy trial goes to the root of the fundamental rights of an individual and the purpose behind laying down the time period for completion of investigation is to ensure that after a person has been arrested, the probe should be completed on time without any fail and the trial should begin and be completed as expeditiously as possible.

Although the police have a right to conduct further investigation, they cannot, under the garb of further investigation, be allowed to file the report without completion of investigation, only to defeat the right of statutory bail, it added.

The court said in the present case, even though the allegations against the accused persons were very serious, the material collected by the investigating agency so far “fell short”.

“In the present case as has been shown by the learned defence counsel during the course of arguments that substantial investigation even qua the present accused persons is incomplete. The offence alleged against the accused persons are very serious and very high in magnitude.

“The material collected by the investigating agency so far, to the mind of this Court falls too short. Rather, if this report is considered to be a complete investigation qua the accused persons, the investigating agency will suffer a lot,” it added.

The court also said the trial court rightly made an observation that the legislature needed to make certain provisions for extending the time granted for completion of investigation in such serious offences.

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It, however, clarified it has not gone into the merits of the case.

The charge sheet was filed on October 15, 2022 and cognisance was taken.

The FIR in the case was based on a complaint made by the Union Bank of India.

It had alleged that DHFL, its then CMD Kapil Wadhawan, the then Director Dheeraj Wadhawan and other accused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the consortium of 17 banks led by the Union Bank of India, and in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy, the accused and others induced the consortium to sanction huge loans aggregating Rs 42,871.42 crore.

Much of that amount was allegedly siphoned off and misappropriated by alleged falsification of the books of the DHFL and dishonest default in repayment of the legitimate dues of the consortium banks, the CBI has claimed.

The complainant has alleged that a wrongful loss of Rs 34,615 crore was caused to the consortium banks in as much as such was the quantification of the outstanding dues as on July 31, 2020.

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