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HC reserves order on issuing notice on Malvinder Singh's plea to quash FIR in RFL case

twitter-logoPTI | October 11, 2019 | Updated 17:52 IST

(Eds: Adding details from the hearing) New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday reserved order on whether to issue notice to the police on former Fortis Healthcare promoter Malvinder Singh's plea seeking quashing of an FIR against him that alleged misappropriation of Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL) funds, causing it a loss to the tune of Rs 2,397 crore. Justice Brijesh Sethi reserved order on the plea after hearing arguments on behalf of Singh, Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police and RFL. Singh had approached the high court Thursday, hours before his arrest. Meanwhile, a Delhi court Friday granted the police four-day custody of Malvinder, his brother Shivinder and three others, arrested for alleged misappropriation of funds in the case. Singh, in his plea in the high court has contended that only the SFIO, which comes under Ministry of Corporate Affairs, could have investigated the allegations of fraud and cheating against him. Singh, represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, urged the court to issue notice in the matter and also stay the proceedings initiated by the police, which was opposed by the EOW and RFL. Singhvi argued that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) was already investigating the issue of diversion of funds on a complaint by Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL) and therefore, EOW "could not have jumped the gun". He said that SFIO had initiated investigation on February 17, 2018 on the direction of the ministry. EOW, represented by Delhi government additional standing counsel (criminal) Avninder Singh, opposed the contentions and argued that SFIO was only given the mandate to investigate REL and Fortis Healthcare and a fresh notification would have to be issued by the Centre to allow it to probe RFL. The contention was supported by the SFIO, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya, which said that presently it has not been directed by the government to investigate RFL and it cannot probe the company without prior approval. EOW also told the court that according to a forensic report from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), it has been found that Rs 1,260 crore was diverted from RFL. The agency also contended that an accused cannot choose which agency would investigate it and that even if SFIO was investigating them under the Companies Act, it cannot save them from being prosecuted under the IPC. The contentions of EOW were opposed by Singhvi, who said that in the instant case the accused were not choosing the investigating agency as the legislature and the statute -- the Companies Act -- has already chosen it -- the SFIO. Singhvi said that offences of cheating and misappropriation of funds under the IPC were a subset of the offence of fraud under the Companies Act and therefore, SFIO would have the exclusive jurisdiction to carry out the investigation. EOW on March 27 lodged an FIR against Singh and others under sections 420, 409 and 120B of the IPC on a complaint by Manpreet Singh Suri of RFL. The police formally arrested him early Friday morning after detaining him at Ludhiana, Punjab, on the intervening night of Thursday-Friday. The others named in the FIR are Malvinder's brother Shivinder, Sunil Godhwani (58), the former chairman and managing director of REL, Kavi Arora (48) and Anil Saxena, who occupied important positions in REL and RFL. All of them have already been arrested by the EOW for allegedly diverting money from RFL and investing in other companies. RFL is a subsidiary of REL. Malvinder (46) and Shivinder (44) were earlier the promoters of REL. A lookout circular had been issued against Malvinder as he was absconding. PTI HMP SKV SA

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