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SC sets aside bail to scam accused ex-Bhushan Steel CFO

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the bail granted to Bhushan Steel’s former Chief Financial Officer and Director, Nittin Johari, by the Delhi High Court.

Johari was arrested by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) on May 2 for alleged fraudulent activities. Justice Sunil Gaur of the Delhi High Court had granted the relief to Johari, who was presently in judicial custody.

Bhushan Steel Ltd (BSL) promoters Brij Bhushan Singal and Neeraj Singal, assisted by employees and close associates, had used a complex web of 157 companies to siphon off funds from BSL for various purposes, fraudulently availed of credit from various lender banks and manipulated the books of accounts and financial statements of BSL, causing wrongful loss amounting to Rs 20,879 crore to banks and financial institutions and causing wrongful gain of around Rs 3,500 crore to the Singals and their family members.

A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana said: “In the interest of justice, we deem it fit to remand the matter to the High Court to reconsider bail application filed by respondent (Johari) in light of the principles governing the grant of bail under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C.. (he) shall continue to remain in custody, subject to the order of the High Court in the said bail application.”

Setting aside the High Court order, the apex court observed that it failed to apply its mind to all the circumstances that were required to be considered while granting bail, particularly in relation to economic offences.

Johari was arrested for alleged fraudulent activities, including filing false documents with various banks. The SFIO probe revealed that Johari was managing the affairs of Bhushan Steel and he was the signatory on the funds raised from banks and financial institutions. The SFIO alleged in 2016-17, he was also one of the signatories on the company’s financial statements.

The High Court had observed that while co-accused Brij Bhushan Singal had not been arrested due to his old age, co-accused Neeraj Singal had already been granted bail in August 2018.

At this, the apex court said: “However, we find it necessary to note that in light of the peculiar circumstances of the case, the High Court ought not to have been influenced by the non-arrest of Brij Bhushan Singal and the grant of bail to Neeraj Singal.”

The top court was also critical of the High Court observation where it came to a conclusion after referring certain portions of the complaint to ascertain the alleged role of Johari, and attributed it merely for colluding with the co-accused promoters in the commission of offence.



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