Religare scam: Delhi court dismisses anticipatory bail plea of former independent director

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New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) A Delhi court has dismissed an anticipatory bail plea of Avinash Chander Mahajan, former independent director of Religare Finvest Ltd, in a case of alleged misappropriation of funds worth Rs 2,397 crores.

Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav said a futile attempt was made by Mahajan to distance himself from the alleged loans extended to 14 entities who were related to or controlled by or associated with promoters.

The court said Mahajan did not express any concern or opposed the alleged loan proposal which clearly established conspiracy with the promoters/other accused persons for alleged diversion of funds.

'Thus, the applicant not only approved loan but also ratified the same. Thus, a futile attempt was made by applicant to distance himself from the loans extended to 14 entities who were related to or controlled by or associated with promoters,' it said in its order passed on February 20.

It further said Mahajan cannot run away from criminal liability and by his act, he has allegedly caused wrongful loss to RFL company and wrongful gain to the promoters.

'Applicant (Mahajan) miserably failed to discharge his duty and did not exercise due diligence amounting to criminality with respect to grant of loan by RFL to shell companies and only believed in the assurance of management and promoters for the approval of loans in respect of loan proposals.

'Investigation revealed that this omission on the part of applicants to diversion of funds for the benefit of promoters and their companies and thus caused loss to shareholders fund. Applicant even did not express any concern or opposed the alleged loan proposal which clearly establishes conspiracy with promoters/other accused persons for diversion of funds,' it said.

The court added as per police reply, his custodial interrogation was required to unearth the conspiracy and role of conspirators.

'Police reply further records that being senior professional, applicant (Mahajan) deliberately turned blind eye in respect of the amount related party of promoters and thus caused wrongful loss to the company,' it noted.

Police said that it was found during investigation that Mahajan was an independent director of Religare Enterprise Ltd (REL) and RFL at different times and was a member of Risk Management Committee (RMC) for disbursal of loans of Corporate Loan Book.

He was also a member of Related Party Transaction (RPT) and allegedly recommended/sanctioned loans to 14 entities out of 19 disputed loans which were eventually diverted/misappropriated in the capacity of member of RMC as well as RPT sub committee, police claimed.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for Mahajan, said notice to join investigation was received by him from the investigating officer in July last year and he had responded to all queries raised in August 2020.

She further claimed the investigating officer did not consider it necessary to arrest him during the investigation spreading over a period of one-and-half years and neither in the FIR nor in the status report/reply filed by the police, it was stated that any financial benefit accrued to Mahajan.

Additional Public Prosecutor L D Singh, appearing for the police, opposed the bail plea saying the main role of Mahajan was to protect the interest of shareholders and to observe wrongdoing by the management of the company which he allegedly failed to do.

Advocate Sandeep Dass, appearing for RFL, submitted that as referred to various e-mails which are part of the charge sheet and in one of those emails another independent director had opposed giving loans and Mahajan allegedly approved the loan as part of RPT.

Malvinder, Shivinder, former CMD of Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL) Sunil Godhwani, Kavi Arora and Anil Saxena were arrested in the case by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police in 2019, for allegedly diverting RFL's money and investing in other companies.

The EOW registered an FIR in March 2019, after it received a complaint from RFL's Manpreet Suri against Malvinder, Shivinder and others, alleging that loans were taken by them while managing the firm but the money was invested in other companies. ED lodged a money laundering case based on this. PTI URD RKS RKS