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Petition disposed of giving liberty to the petitioner to raise all the issues available to her including framing of charge: The High Court of Calcutta

In a case in which the CBI alleges a big chit fund scam, it is claimed there are several people involved in this case. The prejudice being suffered by the petitioner with the delay of trial can be resolved with a direction to the learned Court below to expedite the trial as the petitioner being a widow lady living at Delhi is facing trial at Kolkata. In the High Court of Calcutta for the matter Manoranjana Sinh & Anr. v. Central Bureau of Investigation[CRR/1310/2021] led through the division bench chaired by Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee.

The facts of the case are that an application was filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, praying for quashing of the proceedings being CBI RC 04/S/2014 pending before the Learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore, South 24-Parganas, arising out of CBI/SCB/Kolkata Case No. RC 4/S/2014 dated 4.6.2014 under Section 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 (for short, ‘the PCMC Act), read with Sections 120B/420/409 of the Indian Penal Code, in so far as the same relates to the petitioners.

The petitioners submitted that the dealing between the petitioners and the Saradha Group of Companies was at arm’s length. There was a commercial arrangement between the petitioners and the Saradha Group of Companies, whereunder the petitioners were to promote the business and image of the Saradha Group of Companies. The petitioners were never aware that such companies were indulging in any unlawful activity. Relying on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Anil Mahajan v. Bhor Industries Ltd. & Anr.: (2005) 10 SCC 228, it was submitted that the dishonest intention must be existing from the inception of the transaction in question to attract the mischief of Section 420. Relying on the case of Kehar Singh & Ors. v. State (Delhi Administration): (1988) 3 SCC 609, it was submitted that mere knowledge of the source of funds mid-way into the execution of a bona fide agreement would not amount to conspiracy in law.

Learned Additional Solicitor General, submitted that the only argument advanced on behalf of the petitioners was based on an alleged agreement entered into by and between P2 represented by P1, P1 representing herself, her father and others being 100% shareholders of the P2 company on the one hand and Bengal Media Pvt. Ltd., represented by Sudipta Sen, on the other hand, under an alleged Memorandum of Understanding dated 09.06.2010 between Bengal Media represented by Sudipta Sen, and P1. Learned Counsel submitted that there are several discrepancies between the Memorandum of Understanding and the alleged agreement, entered into between the parties, which cannot be relied upon. There is no reference to any Board Resolution on the strength of which the document has been purported to be signed. Manoranjana Sinh appears to have signed on behalf of GNN Private Ltd.

The respondents submitted that at the stage of framing charges or quashing of an FIR/Charge sheet the Court is precluded from looking into any documents other than those produced by the prosecution. The Courts would not be justified in invoking the inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr. P.C. to quash the same except in those rare cases where forensic exigencies and formidable compulsions justify such a course and even in such exceptional cases the High Court could look into only those documents, which are unimpeachable and can be legally translated into relevant evidence.

The court directed “It is a case in which the CBI alleges a big chit fund scam, the FIR for which was registered on a direction by Hon’ble the Supreme Court in the year 2014. It is claimed that there is number of persons involved in the crime. Even though 4-5 charge sheets have been filed but the matter is still under investigation for which the CBI has permission from the Court under section 173(8) Cr.P.C. At the time of a hearing number of documents were referred to by both the parties. We do not find it appropriate to opine thereon as the evidentiary value thereof will be appreciated by the learned Court below at appropriate stage of the proceedings.

The High Court of Calcutta concluded “From the arguments of the parties as we have noticed briefly above, in our opinion the present petition can be disposed of giving liberty to the petitioner to raise all the issues available to her at appropriate stage of the case including framing of charge. The prejudice being suffered by the petitioner with the delay of trial can be resolved with a direction to the learned Court below to expedite the trial as the petitioner being a widow lady living at Delhi is facing trial at Kolkata.”

The petition was disposed of accordingly.

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