The Orissa High Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to journalists accused of cheating depositors through Ponzi schemes.
The petitioner, Suman Chattopadhyay is a journalist who earlier happened to be the Director and shareholder of Disha Productions & Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. (DPMPL). As reported, he ceased to be the share-holder and Director of DPMPL in January 2013, and presently he is continuing as the Chief Editor of ‘Ae Samay’, a Bengali newspaper. He was arrested in another case registered in Odisha against another Ponzi Company, namely “I-Core E-Services Ltd.”, and in that connection during a search conducted in his residential premises, some documents were found out to show his relationship with and diversion of funds from M/s. Saradha Group of Industries to DPMPL, of which he earlier happened to be the Director and share-holder, and subsequent misappropriation of an amount of Rs.1.04 Crore.
Ponzi Companies, many in number, flourished in the Eastern States of India, basically in Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, and Bihar, which instigated the public through different schemes, to deposit/invest money, with false assurance of impressive returns. Being allured by such lucrative assurance, lacs of gullible depositors parted with their hard-earned money with those Ponzi firms, who though at the initial stage paid some returns, later on after collecting huge amounts of money from the public, disappeared from the scene to the dismay and detriment of the depositors.
Mr.Debasish Panda, counsel appearing for the petitioner while urging for the anticipatory bail submitted, inter-alia, that since the petitioner was earlier examined by the Investigating Agency in connection with certain cases of Saradha Group registered at Kolkata, and on those occasions, he was not thought necessary or proper to be taken to custody, it would be a futile exercise for the C.B.I. to arrest him in connection with the present case which is also in connection with Saradha Group.
According to Mr.Panda, the entire transaction of the petitioner with Saradha Group was nothing but a business deal having no element of criminality, and the C.B.I. is already in possession of all the connected documents of such business transaction.
Mr. Sarthak Nayak, counsel appearing for the C.B.I. while opposing the anticipatory bail to the petitioner urged that Custodial interrogation of the petitioner is essential to know as to whether any other benefits have been received by him from Saradha Group and other Ponzi companies, whether there has been a diversion of money from Saradha Group to any other influential persons directly or indirectly, whether there were other patrons of Saradha Group, whether the petitioner has diverted his ill-gotten money to anybody else, etc.
Mr. Nayak further added that being a media person the petitioner is in contact
with many influential persons, and there is every chance of his tampering with evidence and threatening or influencing material witnesses, and not cooperating with the investigation.
The single-judge bench of Justice S. Pujahari noted that since in this case the petitioner has been indicted in an economic offense which is of serious in nature and the larger angle of conspiracy with regard to the patronage of political and other persons in the growth of such Ponzi firms are required to be unearthed.
The court while rejecting the bail said that no effective investigation can be made by the police by enlarging the petitioner on pre-arrest bail, even if he is ready and willing to cooperate with the investigation by remaining on pre-arrest bail.Subscribe Taxscan AdFree to view the Judgment