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The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday dismissed a state government plea challenging the discharge of alleged hawala operator Afroz Hasan Fatta by a special PMLA court in Ahmedabad in April 2021 from proceedings arising out of an FIR filed at the Surat Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) police station in 2014.
While a detailed order of the Gujarat High Court upholding the lower court’s discharge of Fatta from cheating and forgery allegations remains to be made public, pronouncing the operative part of the verdict on Tuesday, Justice B N Karia said, “The prosecution has not been able to throw any suspicion, and prima facie, no case is made out against the respondent (Fatta). This court does not find any merit in the present revision application and therefore it is dismissed.”
In March 2014, a first information report (FIR) was registered with the Surat DCB police station based on a complaint filed by ICICI Bank, Surat, against RA Distributors Pvt Ltd and its directors, accusing them of hatching a criminal conspiracy and depositing 17 bogus and fabricated bill of entries. By submitting the said forged bills before ICICI Bank, Surat, the accused had allegedly illegally transferred Rs 104 crore through hawala to Dubai and Hong Kong to different companies, the FIR said.
Fatta was later added as an accused in this FIR through a supplementary chargesheet and was arrested in August 2014 in this regard. Fatta was accused of cheating and forgery for laundering money out of India by presenting fake bills of import. Subsequently, Fatta was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in May 2014 after being accused of carrying out hawala transactions purportedly worth over Rs 5,000 crore in just two months with the help of the diamond trading firms he ran.
An Ahmedabad court in April 2021 had discharged Fatta from the charges, primarily observing that prima facie, the evidence relied upon by the prosecution does not involve Fatta in hawala transactions. The Gujarat government in July 2021 moved the Gujarat High Court with a revision application challenging the lower court’s discharge of Fatta.
Notably, Tuesday’s verdict comes on the penultimate day of Justice Karia serving as a sitting judge of Gujarat High Court. Justice Karia, who has been hearing the state’s application since March 2022, retires on May 25.
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