White Collar felonies are more serious than offences like Murder, Dacoity etc.: Bombay High Court

Because an element of conspiracy is involved, it makes the white-collar crimes even more serious than the offences involving bodily harm. Bombay High Court gave the judgment in the case of Tejas Pravin Dugad & others vs. Union of India [Criminal Writ Petition no. 1715 of 2020] stating the above-cited reasons. The decision was held by the bench of Hon’ble Justice MG Sewlikar and Justice TV Nalawade.

In the instant case, pleas were filed by Ganraj Ispat Pvt. Ltd. alleging that false fraud allegations were made upon them under the CGST Act, 2017. The plea was made to quash the criminal proceedings.

Through individual pleas, the directors of Ganraj Ispat Pvt. Ltd. had contended that the GST liabilities imposed upon them by the Chief Commissioner of the Central Goods and Services Tax were on a wrong conception and without following provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Petitioner’s counsel had contended that Rs 84 Lacs were submitted as the GST liabilities to Directorate-General of GST Intelligence.

However, the Tax department claimed that all the petitions filed by the company were misconceived; it was observed that fake records of false invoices for input tax credit were issued to Ganraj Ispat for an amount of over Rs. 5.5 crores for which GST of Rs. 84 lacs was recoverable.

SC bench observed that the petitioners had admitted creating a record of false invoices for the input tax credit by deceiving the authority and the directors had not deposited the amount under protests but as the penalty amount. SC came to the conclusion that the shreds of evidence were enough to prove the fraud committed. 

Relying upon the provisions and scheme under the CGST Act, the Court observed that in the present case, both the adjudication and prosecution started simultaneously, and therefore, the special CGST Act would be applied over the CrPC.

SC bench imposed a penalty of around Rs 25000/- per petitioner to deposit in the court within a prescribed time limit which would be transferred to the respondents for covering the costs of the litigation held in courts.

The bench had stated that the earlier interim order passed had prevented the tax department from exercising their powers, including the issuing of summons which indirectly got the petitioners the relief of anticipatory bail.

SC stated that “White-collar offences are more serious than offences like murder, dacoity etc. Such offences are committed after hatching a conspiracy. This circumstance needs to be kept in mind by Court as the granting of relief of anticipatory bail hampers investigation and such approach causes damage to the image of the judiciary.

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