Madras HC refuses to quash case against realty firm

Management allegedly paid ₹8 lakh as bribe to a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax

The Madras High Court has refused to quash a case filed by the CBI against SPR and RG Constructions Pvt. Ltd., a real estate firm which had purchased Binny Mills property in Chennai for ₹120 crore, its Managing Director Hitesh Kumar Kawad and his chartered accountant Sanjay Bhandari, for having allegedly paid ₹8 lakh as bribe to Sallong Yaden, a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax.

Justice P.N. Prakash refused to quash the case after observing that the profile of the accused in the case was not that of a poor lineman caught receiving a bribe for providing a telephone connection. According to the prosecution, the Income Tax department sleuths had searched the premises of Praveen Kumar Jain in Mumbai in September 2014 and found that he had made some accommodation entries with respect to capital infusion in SPR and RG Constructions. Hence, I-T sleuths in Mumbai conducted a survey in the office of Mr. Kawad on September 5, 2014 and reportedly found some irregularities in their accounts.

Simultaneously, the I-T sleuths in Chennai too were conducting an independent probe since SPR and RG had purchased the Binny Mills property for a huge sum in December 2013. A Deputy Commissioner in Chennai sought the permission of Mr. Yaden to conduct a survey and the latter granted permission for it despite knowing about the survey already conducted by his counterparts in Mumbai. The survey in Chennai led to some incriminating material.

Meanwhile, the CBI obtained permission from the Union Home Ministry to intercept the mobile phone numbers of Mr. Bhandari and his son Shreyans Bhandari. They were put under surveillance and it exposed the latter handing over ₹8 lakh to Mr. Yaden at his residence. When the then Joint Commissioner was questioned regarding the money, he supposedly tried to wriggle out by claiming to have taken a loan.

Although the CBI registered a case against the four individuals as well as the real estate firm and filed a chargesheet against them in 2016, the trial had not yet begun due to multiple petitions filed by the accused either to discharge them or to quash the case, special public prosecutor K. Srinivasan complained to the High Court.

Concurring with him, Justice Prakash said the present case only reminds him of passages from a couple of Supreme Court verdicts which read: “It is common knowledge that currently in our country criminal courts excel in slow motion…there are appeals upon appeals and revisions and supervisory jurisdictions, baffling and baulking speedy termination of prosecutions. The slow motion becomes much slower when politically powerful or rich and influential persons figure as accused.”

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 4:31:18 PM |

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