A clerical employee of a private company accused of defrauding a public sector bank along with his bosses and co-workers sought to turn approver but a special CBI court here has rejected his plea.
Eighth accused in the case, Puran Chand claimed he was an insignificant player in the alleged conspiracy and that he had documents in possession which could further establish the guilt of the other accused persons. But Special Judge Manoj Jain took note of the CBI's submission that it had sufficient material on record to bring home the guilt of all the accused persons. The court also questioned what took Puran Chand nearly 12 years to move the application, and observed that his plea also seemed “exculpatory”.
According to the CBI, a conspiracy was hatched between K. M. Udupa, officer-in-charge, Foreign Exchange Department of Canara Bank, Safdarjung Development Area, and nine persons associated with Premier Vinyl Flooring Limited (PVFL).
PVFL Managing Director O. N. Goenka, directors, A. K. Goenka and Ashok Goenka, two managerial level employees, besides three other clerical level employees including Puran Chand were chargesheeted by the CBI.
The object of the alleged conspiracy was to defraud the bank in the negotiations/discounting of foreign bills raised by the accused company, PVFL, on its different foreign buyers against LCs (Letter of Credits) opened by them with various banks according to the CBI.
The charge sheet was filed in August 2000 and cognisance was taken and all the accused were ordered on October 23, 2000, to be summoned. When Udupa's application moved under Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act was being considered, Puran Chand moved his application under Section 306 of the Criminal Procedure Code seeking to be pardoned and allowed to be made an approver.
According to the prosecution, several false “bills of lading” (document that is used to acknowledge the receipt of a shipment of goods) were allegedly prepared by the six accused employees as part of the conspiracy.
To dispose of the plea, the Judge framed four questions: Whether the applicant admitted his involvement? Whether the applicant had moved at the earliest available opportunity? Whether the CBI had sufficient material on record to prove its case against all the accused persons? And whether the CBI itself also desired that Chand be made an approver and be granted pardon?
Mr. Jain said the accused had in his application not clearly stated whether he admitted or denied his own involvement as a co-conspirator. “His version is that he wants to expose his co accused without specifically elaborating his own role,” the court said. The Judge also wondered what took the accused so long from 2000 when the charge sheet was filed until December 17, 2011, to file his applicant.