IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
(ORDER XXII RULE 2(1)
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL) NO.OF 2020
(Against the impugned judgement and final order dated 07.12.2019 passed by Hon’ble High court of judicature at Allahabad lucknow Bench Lucknow, In Criminal Revision No 1432 of 2019)
IN THE MATTER OF:
Om Prakash Kapoor@ O.P. Kapoor – Petitioner
State of Uttar Pradesh through
C.B.I, BS&F.C New Delhi. – Respondent
Factual matrix of the case is that an F.I.R. No. RCBD1/2018/E/0001 of 2018 was registered by the C.B.I. (B.S. & F.C.), New Delhi, on the complaint made by Shri Brijesh Kumar Singh, Deputy General Manager/Regional Manager, Bank of Baroda, Kanpur, under Section 120B read with Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, with the allegation that Rotomac Global Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Company’) and its Directors cheated the Bank for a sum of Rs.456.63 crores and also other banks, total amounting to Rs.2919.39 crores and did not repay the loan. After investigation, a charge sheet dated 19.05.2018 was filed against the Company and its Directors, including the revisionist. It was alleged in the charge sheet that the revisionist, during his posting as Senior Manager, IBB, Bank of Baroda, Kanpur, he entered into criminal conspiracy with the Directors of the Company and approved disbursements of 6 instances of Packing Credits (PC), out of which, three disbursements were made without obtaining credit report and three other PCs were approved in spite of poor credit reports. Aggrieved, the revisionist moved an application for discharging the case under Section 239 CrPC before the Court of Special Judge, the Anti Corruption Bureau and the C.B.I. (Central), Lucknow, which was rejected by the impugned order dated 05.08.2019 and consequently, charges were framed against the revisionist under Section 120B read with Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
• Whether there was ground for presuming that the offence was committed and if so, then were there any grounds for the accused’s conviction.
• Whether the accused can be discharged at the stage of the application for his discharge on the ground that no strong suspicion existed against the accused, which could prove that the alleged offence had been committed by the accused.
Learned counsel for the revisionist had submitted that the court had wrongly and illegally rejected the discharge application in an arbitrary manner. There was no allegation against the revisionist in the FIR which merely stated the negligence of the revisionist in discharging his duties while during the investigation conducted by the CBI, a charge sheet was filed which stated the complicity of the revisionist in cheating of Rs.456.63 crores, by committing fraud with the association of the Directors of the Company. It had further been submitted by the learned counsel for the revisionist that though it was also alleged by the CBI in the charge sheet that the total amount of all Banks involved was about Rs.2919.39 crores, but there was no evidence against the revisionist in relation to the alleged offences. Further allegation alleged against the revisionist was that he facilitated the Company by allowing disbursement of Rs 15.90 crores against the request letter of the Company dated 3rd February, 2012, which was made for Rs.10.90 crores.
Another submission of the learned counsel for the revisionist was that the aforesaid packing credits were disbursed in one lot of Rs.15.90 crores, within the permissible balance, which was within the available sanction limit. Moreover, this amount had also been liquidated by the Company much before the registration of the FIR. He had also submitted that only general allegations had been levelled by the investigating officer against the revisionist, without any credible evidence. Learned counsel for the revisionist had also submitted that the court wrongly and illegally rejected his discharge application collectively along with the other accused persons, passing the impugned order dated 5th August, 2019.
In rebuttal to the allegations made in the charge sheet that the revisionist had sanctioned packing credit limit without asking credit report from the concerned officials and also permitted opening of letter of credits (LCs) of a value of more than USD 3 million, the learned counsel for the revisionist submitted that it was already assumed by the CBI that all the LCs were authorised by the then Branch Head.
Placing reliance on the decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of C. Chenga Reddy & Ors. Vs. State of A.P., 196 SCC (Crm) 1205 (para 23) and C.K. Jaffer Sharief Vs. State (through CBI), (2013) 1 SCC 205 (paras 14 to 17), learned counsel for the revisionist submitted that though the accused might have acted in violation of the international rules, but no dishonest intention was found during the course of the investigation, therefore, the court had committed error in rejecting his application for discharge.
Learned A.S.G., Shri S.B. Pandey assisted by Shri Kazim Ibrahim, on the other hand, submitted that though it was undisputed that the revisionist was working as a responsible Bank Officer but he granted packing limits to the Company for giving the undue benefits to them, without applying the mandatory provisions and getting the approval from his seniors as well as A.G.M. As a result, the revisionist with the association of the Directors of the Company committed fraud with the Bank in cheating of more than Rs.456.63 crores of Bank Of Baroda, in total of Rs.2919.30 crores (including other Banks). He further submitted that after investigation, the charge sheet was filed and at the time of framing of the charges, the court was not required to entertain another meticulous evidence and other materials placed before it. He also submitted that due to the act of the accused persons, including the revisionist, the Bank was cheated of a huge amount of money and the court had rightly rejected the application of the revisionist and he may raise his submissions at the appropriate stages.
The Hon’ble High court gravely erred in appreciating the fact that the Bank of Baroda in the affidavit filled in the Bail application no- 6933 of 2018 before the Hon’ble High court of judicature at Allahabad bench Lucknow, stated that the irregularities committed by the bank officials including the petitioner were procedural and same does not amount to criminal misconduct and conspiracy.
That the petitioner was innocent and never had the intention to cheat the Bank of Baroda. It was submitted that there was not an iota of evidence against the petitioner that he had ever conspired with the main accused with the purpose of cheating the Bank of Baroda. Thus it was most humbly submitted that no charge under section 120-B, 420, 468, 471 of the IPC and 13(2) section 13(1) of the Corruption Act had been made against the petitioner.
In view of above stated facts and circumstances, the impugned final order judgement dated 07.12.2019 passed by the Hon’ble High court of judicature at Allahabad – Lucknow Bench , Lucknow completely preserved and without any merits and the same were liable to be set aside and the charges levelled against the petitioner should be dropped.