Mumbai The Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday granted bail for the financial manager of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, Miten Pandya, arrested in connection with ₹13,850 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The single-judge Bharati Dangre court granted bail to Pandya primarily on the basis of parity and in view of the fact that several other defendants in the case had already been released on bail.
“Since the co-defendants are released on bail, I see no reason why the present petitioner should continue to be incarcerated,” Judge Dangre said in ordering Modi’s finance director M/s. Firestar International Pvt Ltd will be released after providing a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and one or two deposits of the same amount. The court authorized his immediate release on cash bail and granted him four weeks to post the bonds.
CBI on January 31, 2018 registered an offense against Nirav Modi and several others including his companies for defrauding the public sector bank. The central agency investigation found that between 2011 and 2017, a total of 1,214 Letters of Commitment (LoU) totaling $373,111,0331 ( ₹approximately 23,780 crore) were fraudulently issued to the companies of Modi Diamonds R US, Stellar Diamonds and Solar Exports, of which 150 LoU totaling ₹6,498.20 crores remained in circulation resulting in a loss of ₹6,805.24 crore to GNP.
Pandya was arrested in this case on March 4, 2018 and has since been behind bars.
He had applied to the High Court for bail, saying he had been wrongly charged in the case simply for being an employee of the Firestar Group and reading the indictment would reveal he was not had received neither money nor commission from the accused. In addition, he had also pleaded the ground of parity and cited two examples of his immediate boss Vipul Ambani (president, finance) and Arjun Patil – another employee of the firm.
However, the CBI opposed the plea saying that Pandya was not only aware of the fraudulent transactions carried out by the group, but also played a significant role in concealing a huge store of important and incriminating documents, with the intention to destroy them, by transferring the documents to the office of a law firm in Lower Parel. This, according to the agency, was done late at night, a fortnight after the offense was recorded.
However, HC granted bail to Pandya mainly for parity reasons. Furthermore, the court also took into consideration that he had been behind bars for approximately four and a half years.
“A prolonged delay in the conclusion of the trial will not justify the indefinite imprisonment of the defendant, no matter how serious the charges. Once the investigation is complete and the indictment is filed, there is no need for the accused to remain in custody,” the court said.