A special CBI court granted bail to Kavita Mankikar, an employee of diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s firm who is accused in the Punjab National Bank scam case, more than four years after she filed her plea.
Special judge SJ Menjoge in his order said that the Bombay High Court had already held that her arrest was “illegal” and the Central Investigation Agency was given the liberty to re-arrest following the due process of law.
“Till date she has not been arrested, but has been attending this court regularly. No purpose would be served by rejecting her bail,” the special court said.
In the bail application, filed through advocates Rahul Agarwal and Jasmin Purani, Mankikar had cited the high court order.
She had prayed for bail, stating that the chargesheet has been filed in the case and the investigation was over.
The probe agency had, however, opposed the plea on the ground that the further investigation was still underway in India and abroad.
The court after hearing both sides allowed her bail plea.
The special judge noted that the application has been pending since June, 2018.
The chargesheet has been filed and considerable time has elapsed since the date of filing of reply (to the bail plea) by the CBI, the court said, but she has not been re-arrested until now.
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In a petition before the high court, Mankikar, had claimed that she was arrested by the CBI at 8 pm on February 20, 2018, contrary to the provision of law, which says a woman cannot be arrested after sunset.
The accused was in jail for almost three months before the high court had declared her arrest illegal in May that year.
The high court had then directed the probe agency to pay Mankikar a compensation of Rs 50,000 for the illegal arrest.
Mankikar was Nirav Modi’s executive assistant and authorised signatory of three of his group firms Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports.
According to the CBI, Mankikar had fraudulently signed the applications for issuance of letters of understanding (LoU).
On January 31, 2018, the CBI had registered a case against Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi, the owner of Gitanjali Gems, and several others including PNB officials.
In its FIR, the CBI had listed eight fraudulent transactions worth more than Rs 280 crore.
But, based on further complaints from the bank, the agency said the quantum of amount in the first FIR was more than Rs 6,498 crore, involving 150 LoUs allegedly issued fraudulently.
The remaining 150 fraudulent LoUs worth more than Rs 4,886 crore issued for Gitanjali Group of companies were part of the second FIR registered later by the agency against Choksi and his companies Gitanjali Gems, Nakshatra Brands and Gili.