A special court in Pune on Wednesday granted bail to Ravindra Prabhakar Marathe, the CEO and managing director of Bank of Maharashtra, who had been arrested last week allegedly for violating norms while sanctioning a loan to a company of DSK group which is being investigated for cheating and fraud.
Marathe, his predecessor Sushil Muhnot, and two other senior officials of Bank of Maharashtra were arrested by the economic offences wing of Pune police on June 20. All were put under police remand till today. Marathe, who is asthmatic, was later shifted to magisterial custody. He had to be hospitalised twice in the last week due to his ill-health. On Wednesday too, he was in a city hospital from where he furnished his bail documents.
The court of special judge R N Sardesai, before whom the arguments of the prosecution and defence on the bail application had already taken place, granted bail to Marathe on the surety of Rs 50,000 on Wednesday.
“The court has granted bail to Ravindra Marathe, against the surety of Rs 50,000 and on the condition that he should not leave the country. I have argued in the court that the very arrest was illegal as the charges under the Maharashtra Protection of Interests of Depositors Act are baseless, as the bank had nothing to do with the investors. The loan was disbursed after following all the procedures and sanction of loan was a collective business decision,” advocate Harshad Nimbalkar, who represented Marathe in court, said after the bail.
With the police custody of the other bankers also coming to an end today, they were all shifted to magisterial remand. Like in the case of Marathe, Pune police told the court it did not need their further custody as it had completed the questioning. Hearing on their bail applications is expected to be taken up from tomorrow.
The arrests of the senior bankers had sent shock waves in the banking industry. The Indian Bank Association said the arrests were “unwarranted and unfortunate”, and had left the “entire banking industry concerned and anguished”. At an emergency meeting last week, the IBA had suggested the setting up of an independent committee to sanction police investigations into senior bank officials. On Monday, a senior Finance Ministry official suggested that Marathe’s arrest was an “aberration”, and must not mean that “bankers are being hounded”.
The DSK group, a client of Bank of Maharashtra, is being investigated for cheating and fraud, after several of its investors complained to Pune police that their dues were not being paid by the company. Its promoter, D S Kulkarni, his wife Hemanti, and several family members and officials of the company have been arrested. Kulkarni’s son, Shirish, too was arrested on Monday.