The bail application of Ravindra Prabhakar Marathe, the arrested CEO and managing director of Bank of Maharashtra, could not be taken up by a city court on Tuesday because the judge hearing the case did not show up because of a health emergency in his family.
The application is likely to be heard on Wednesday now. The Pune police has already told the court that it had completed Marathe’s questioning and no longer needed his custody.
Marathe, his predecessor Sushil Muhnot, and two other senior officials of Bank of Maharashtra were arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of Pune City Police last week in connection with the investigation into cases of cheating and fraud by the city-based DSK Group. The police had accused the bankers of sanctioning loans to a DSK Group company in violation of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, and ‘conspiring’ to favour the company.
All the four officials were sent to police custody till June 27. But Marathe, who is asthmatic, was later moved to magisterial custody due to ill-health. He had to be hospitalised twice, on the day he was arrested and then again last Saturday.
The other three bankers have not yet filed bail applications. The arrests of the senior bankers had sent shockwaves across the banking industry. The Indian Bank Association (IBA) 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”.
NCP president Sharad Pawar, who was in Pune on Tuesday to attend an event, also said the arrest of Marathe “shows the impulsiveness of Pune Police”. “The members of the DSK Group have been arrested for deceiving investors. But the Bank of Maharashtra official, Ravindra Marathe, has also been arrested for the same reason. This is wrong and shows the impulsiveness of the Pune police,” Pawar told mediapersons.
He said only the RBI has the right to investigate a public servant from a nationalised bank. But Marathe’s arrest shows the “over-enthusiasm” of the police, said Pawar.
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.