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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Delhi HC grants bail to ex-Fortis promoter, says probe must have ‘time-limited process’

The court observed that “people’s trust in the criminal justice system must rest on surer footing than on pre-trial punishment by keeping accused persons in prison”.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | July 24, 2020 12:58:36 am
Shivinder Mohan Singh

The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted bail to former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh in a money laundering case registered against him by the ED. The court observed that “people’s trust in the criminal justice system must rest on surer footing than on pre-trial punishment by keeping accused persons in prison”.

Granting bail, Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani referred to his own decision of June 18 in a bail application, in which he had observed, “Criminal investigation is not a metaphorical fishing-rod handed to an investigating agency, to indulge its penchant for ‘fishing around’ for evidence, at its own leisure and in the fullness of time”.

“Investigation has to be a time-limited process, to be conducted strictly within the structure and framework of applicable law,” the court said and directed Singh to furnish a personal bond of Rs 1 crore, with two sureties of Rs 25 lakh each from two family members.

The court also observed: “Nowhere is it the law that an accused, yet to be tried, is to be kept in custody only on a hunch or a presumption that he will prejudice or impede trial; or to send any message to the society. If anything, the only message that goes out to the society by keeping an accused in prison before finding him guilty is that our system works only on impressions and conjectures and can keep an accused in custody even on presumption of guilt…”

The ED had arrested Singh and others in the case on December 12. However, he will not be able to walk out of Delhi’s Tihar Jail since he continues to be under judicial custody in connection with the case lodged against him and others by the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) of Delhi Police.

In the EoW case, he was arrested on October 10 last year.

Singh and his elder brother Malvinder Mohan Singh — former promoters of Ranbaxy, Fortis, Religare Enterprises – were arrested by EoW in October 2019 for allegedly causing losses to the tune of Rs 2,397 crore to Religare Finvest Ltd, a subsidiary of Religare Enterprises. The ED subsequently arrested Shivinder in a money laundering case.

While granting bail, the HC on Thursday imposed several conditions, directing Singh to surrender his passport, not to leave the country without permission of the designated court, and cooperate in any further investigation into the case.

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