Shivinder Mohan Singh, erstwhile promoter of Religare Enterprises, was on Tuesday granted bail by a local court in a bank fraud case pertaining to alleged misappropriation of funds at Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL).
Even after receiving bail in the case, Shivinder will not walk free from Tihar jail, where he is currently lodged, as his bail appeal in another case opposed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is pending in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, in the present case, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Delhi Police strongly opposed Shivinder's bail on the grounds that if released (on bail), he can influence witnesses and tamper with evidence.
The court, in a scathing ruling, censured EOW for undertaking a biased approach in its probe and pulled up the investigating agency for adopting a "pick and choose policy" in apprehending the accused involved in the case.
It is alleged that the Singh brothers colluded with the employees of Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) and embezzled two FDs (fixed deposits) of Rs 400 crore and Rs 350 crore made with the bank by the complainant company.
The court also expressed shock over non arrest of any bank functionary by the EOW stating in its judgement that "none of the officials of LVB (Lakshmi Vilas Bank) who were involved in the decision-making process at the relevant time have been arrested for the reasons best non to the IO."
The court further added that the explanation offered by the investigating officer (IO) for not arresting the bank's officials failed to convince the judiciary. The officer had claimed that no evidence had surfaced against the employees getting any illegal benefits.
The court in its ruling said that "this only shows that investigation was not conducted in a proper manner" adding that unless EOW furnishes evidence of pecuniary gain to LVB, the prosecution will not be able to corroborate the allegation of conspiracy.
It stated that "leave alone the bank officials, even other persons arrayed as accused in the chargesheet viz. Sunil Godhwani and Hemant Dhingra have not been arrested."
Thus, the investigating agency cannot adopt a pick and choose policy in the matter of arrest, the court said, clearly noting that the said "discriminatory approach" in the probe exposed it "to the allegation of taint and bias".
Granting bail to Shivinder, the court ruled that the entire evidence is documentary in nature which has already been confiscated, thus, the accused, if released on bail, will, without doubt, tamper with the evidence.
The court also directed the IO in the case to issue a request to the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs to immediately open a look out circular (LoC) in Shivinder's name to ensure that he doesn't leave the country without permission of trial court.
The EOW arrested both Shivinder and his older brother Malvinder Mohan Singh last December in a case pertaining to alleged embezzlement of funds at RFL.
The probe into the case, filed in September, disclosed that the duo misappropriated the money by availing loan from the bank against the two FDs in RHC Holdings Pvt Ltd company they owned and further squaring off their liabilities.
The EOW further claimed that Malvinder and Shivinder methodically and covertly diverted public money for their own benefit.