A court in Pune on Monday accepted a report filed by police seeking the discharge of three former officials of Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) in the case of alleged misuse of their positions for wrongful disbursement of multi-crore loan to the DSK Group. The depositors in the case have said they will challenge the court’s order in the Bombay High Court.
On June 20 last year, the Economic Offences Wing of Pune City Police had booked and arrested three BoM officials — the then Chairman and Managing Director Ravindra Marathe, the then Executive Director Rajendra Gupta and former CMD Sushil Muhnot — along with zonal manager Nityanand Deshpande.
In October last year, the police had filed a closure report against Marathe, Gupta and Muhnot under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code saying they did not find any evidence against them showing criminal intent. The police had also sent a report to the department of financial services at the Ministry of Finance leaving scope for probe to find if there were any irregularities committed by the three officials. Police probe against Deshpande is on.
Could not find evidence of criminal intent: Closure report
At the time of arrest, the EOW had alleged that the said former bank officials had disbursed loan of over Rs 100 crore to the DSK Group in 2016 and 2017 in two tranches by flouting the RBI guidelines and misusing their positions with criminal intent. The disbursed loan was further diverted by the other accused in the case for the purposes it was not sanctioned for. However, in the closure report by the police in October it was concluded that while they could not find evidence of criminal intent, the decision to disburse loan to the DSK Group was at the most an “imprudent business decision”.
Senior lawyer Harshad Nimbalkar who represented Marathe, Gupta and Muhnot said: “The court has accepted the closure report against the three then BoM officials. The court observed that the report was filed after taking into account all aspects.” The special court of Judge D G Murumkar, hearing the matters under the Maharashtra Protection of Interests of Depositors (MPID) Act, accepted the report.
These arrests of the bank officials in June were made in connection with a case registered in October 2017 against developer Deepak Kulkarni, his wife Hemanti Kulkarni, son Shirish and others in a fraud to the tune of Rs 2,043 crore.
The fraud amount included Rs 1,083 crore taken as deposits and loans from depositors, Rs 711 crore loans taken from various banks and financial institutions, Rs 112 crore of debentures and Rs 137 crore of misappropriations in a land deal at Fursungi near Pune.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Nilesh More, who is investigating the case said they were yet to get the final order of the court. “Our report was about Marathe, Gupta and Muhnot. The investigation against Deshpande is on.” While Marathe had retired on November 30, Gupta’s term with the bank ended on December 31. Muhnot was removed from his position in September 2016 in an unrelated matter. After filing of the report by the police, the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Pravin Chavan, had said that he was neither communicated about nor consulted by the police before filing the closure report in the court. “As the prosecutor of the case, I feel that I should have been consulted and such report should have been filed through me,” Chavan had told The Indian Express in October last year.
When contacted on Monday, Chavan said: “If the depositors decide to challenge the court’s decision, all facts of the case will be put forward before the High Court.” He added: “I will make all possible efforts for the welfare of the depositors.” RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar who has been representing the aggrieved depositors of the DSK Group on various platforms said: “I have spoken to some of the depositors and they have already started preparing to challenge the court’s decision in the High Court.”