Bail denied, prima facie materials showing involvement in deep-rooted conspiracy to cause such a huge loss to the Bank: Orissa High Court

Granting bail to the petitioner in economic offences of this nature would be against the larger interest of public and State as it involves criminal misappropriation and cheating of huge amount of public money and there is also reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witnesses. This was said in the case of Ashwini Kumar Patra vs Republic Of India [BLAPL No.214 of 2021] by Justice S.K. Sahoo in the High Court of Orissa. 

The facts of the case date back to  07.01.2021 when the petitioners application for bail in the Court of learned Special Judge, CBI was rejected mainly on the ground that prima facie the petitioner appears not only to have illegally processed the housing loans in favour of the borrowers by abusing their official positions but also submitted invalid/ false post- sanction inspection reports in the Bank and that if the petitioner is enlarged on bail, there would be every chance of his influencing the prosecution witnesses and tampering with the prosecution evidence. Assailing the order of the Special Judge, the petitioners filed an application under Section 439 of Cr.P.C. for grant of bail.

Petitioner contended that the petitioner’s job in the capacity of Assistant Marketing Manager was not to verify the documents provided by the builders rather it was the duty of the Manager, Advance and Chief Manager of the Bank to scrutinize such documents and to obtain prior approval of plan before disbursing the loan amounts. Secondly, it was contended that since investigation has been completed and the petitioner is a local man and he has been dismissed from the services of the Bank, there is no chance of his absconding or tampering with the evidence, therefore, the bail application may be sympathetically considered.

Learned Special Public Prosecutor contended that the petitioner has mentioned false or fictitious statements while processing the credit information and net-worth assessment of the borrowers in the loan proposals, which clearly reflects his malafide intention of concealing the facts and deviating the procedures of the Bank. Secondly, it was contended that the quantum of misappropriation amount being very high and the petitioner being a local person, he is very likely to influence and gain over the witnesses in case he is enlarged on bail and therefore, the bail application should be rejected.

The Court referred to the case of Prahalad Singh Bhati -Vrs.- NCT, Delhi [(2001) SCC 674] wherein it was said that “While granting the bail, the Court has to keep in mind the nature of accusations, the nature of evidence in support thereof, the severity of the punishment which conviction will entail, the character, behaviour, means and standing of the accused, circumstances which are peculiar to the accused, reasonable possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial, reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being tampered with, the larger interests of the public or state and similar other considerations”

Furthermore, the Court said that the crime was committed in a cool, calculated and organized manner causing wrongful loss of crores to the Bank. There are prima facie materials showing involvement of the petitioner in the deep-rooted conspiracy with other co-accused persons to cause such a huge loss to the Bank”. Hence, the bail application was rejected.

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