February 20, 2021 4:17:48 am
Directing that a mechanism be put in place to tackle rising bank frauds cases in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked for a compliance report after three months on the instructions issued in the matter and SOPs prepared for investigation of bank fraud cases.
The Chief Secretaries of the two states, Home Secretary, Chandigarh and all three DGPs have been directed to submit the compliance report.
Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi said, “Since substantial number of such cases of bank frauds in the states of Punjab and Haryana involve execution of mortgage deeds on the basis of forged revenue record or omission/deletion of the relevant entries regarding the earlier encumbrances, the Chief Secretaries, Punjab and Haryana and Home Secretary, U.T. Chandigarh are directed to examine the matter and issue appropriate instructions including instructions regarding production of the original record by the concerned revenue official at the time of registration of the mortgage deed and immediate sanctioning of mutation on the basis of such mortgage deeds”.
Justice Tyagi added that the copy of the HC order shall also be sent to Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India, Chandigarh and all the District and Sessions Judges in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for information/requisite compliance.
The bench of Justice Tyagi, passed the order, while hearing the anticipatory bail plea of an accused, Gurwinder Singh of Patiala, facing charges for allegedly cheating several banks with the help of some government and bank officials, by mortgaging a land in favour of banks, which he previously owned.
The HC appreciated SSP (Patiala) for prompt action taken in the case and directed him to supervise the investigation till filing of the chargesheet. The bench disposed the anticipatory bail plea of accused, stating it to be infructuous as he had been arrested.
Meanwhile, over the affidavits concerning the bank fraud cases and its pending investigations, submitted by the Director General Police (DGP) of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, Justice Tyagi said, “There is delay in investigation of Bank fraud cases in both the States of Punjab and Haryana as well as U.T. Chandigarh.”
The DGPs’ affidavits mentioned, “In the state of Punjab out of 151 cases of bank frauds, investigation is pending in 67 cases for more than one year. In the state of Haryana out of 223 cases of bank frauds, investigation is pending in 190 cases for one year or more than one year. In UT Chandigarh, out of 18 cases of bank frauds, investigation is pending in 16 cases for more than one year. The relevant details regarding year-wise breakup are not given in respect of cases in the states of Punjab and Haryana where investigation is pending for more than one year but a perusal of relevant information given in respect of such cases in UT Chandigarh shows that investigation is pending in two cases since 2015, in one case since 2016, in six cases since 2017, in five cases since 2018 and in one case since 2019.”
Justice Tyagi said, “Delay in investigation of such cases not only enables the offenders to tamper with/destroy the evidence but also adversely affects the credibility and efficacy of the system for administration of criminal justice…”
Concerned over the matter, Justice Tyagi added, “It would be appropriate that the concerned banks also depute concerned Branch Manager/Manager Legal for providing requisite information/documents and coordinating with the investigating officer during investigation and the public prosecutor during trial of cases involving bank frauds”.
Justice Tyagi ordered that for investigation of bank fraud a specific SOP be prepared.
Giving an example over it, he added, “In cases of bank frauds involving taking of loan by execution of fraudulent mortgage deeds the Investigating Officer has also to ascertain the purpose for which the loan was taken, the manner in which the loan was disbursed and utilised and the repayments which were made. The Investigating Officer has to collect the loan application, loan agreement, guarantee deed if any and the mortgage deed executed, revenue documents/title deed submitted to prove title of mortgaged property/land and nonencumbrance certificate/valuation report submitted by the Advocate/Valuer/Assessor on the panel of the complainant Bank.
Justice Tyagi continued, “Statements of persons witnessing the execution of documents have to be recorded for proving execution of the documents keeping in view the requirements of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. If offence was committed with the aid of technology, then requisite call details record with tower location, CCTV footage if any, details regarding email accounts, IP Aadress etc., and hard disc, pen drive or CD in original or copied from the source with certificate under Section 65 B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 have to be obtained by the Investigating Officer”.
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