The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the grant of bail to Bhushan Steel’s former chief financial officer Nittin Johari, arrested by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office for alleged fraudulent activities.
A Bench led by Justices N.V. Ramana, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi referred to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in past decisions on the question of granting bail to persons accused of economic offences.
“Economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach in the matter of bail. The economic offences having deep-rooted conspiracies and involving huge loss of public funds need to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offences affecting the economy as a whole and thereby posing serious threat to the financial health of the country,” the 18-page judgment authored by Justice Shantanagoudar held.
The court found that the Delhi High Court, while granting bail to Bihari on August 14, did not apply its mind to all the circumstances required to be considered while granting bail, particularly in relation to economic offences.
The apex court asked the High Court to consider his bail plea afresh at an early date.
Johari was arrested by the SFIO on May 2 for alleged fraudulent activities, including filing false documents with various banks.
The case of the prosecution primarily hinges on the commission of fraud punishable under the Companies Act of 2013 and the Indian Penal Code.
The prosecution version is that from 2009-10 to 2016-17, Brij Bhushan Singal and Neeraj Singal, promoters of the BSL, assisted by employees and close associates, used a complex web of 157 companies to siphon off funds from it for various purposes, and also fraudulently availed themselves of credit from lender banks and cooked account books.
Their activities, according to the prosecution case, caused a loss of around ₹3,500 crore.
Johari is alleged to have played a central role in perpetrating these frauds.