Bail to Bhushan Steel ex-promoter: SC refuses to stay Delhi HC order

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New Delhi | Published: August 30, 2018 4:24:59 AM

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Delhi High Court order that granted interim bail to Bhushan Steel’s erstwhile promoter Neeraj Singal.

Senior counsel CA Sundaram, appearing for Singal, opposed cancellation of any interim bail, saying Singal has spent 21 days in jail and already several strict restrictions have been imposed on him.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Delhi High Court order that granted interim bail to Bhushan Steel’s erstwhile promoter Neeraj Singal, who was arrested on Thursday by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) for allegedly siphoning off more than Rs 2,000 crore from the loans availed by the company.

A bench led by chief justice Dipak Misra said it will hear on Thursday the SFIO’s appeal opposing the interim bail granted to Singal by the HC earlier on Tuesday.

Additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for SFIO, repeatedly sought a stay on the high court order for a day or two, saying funds were siphoned off by Singal using more than 80 shell companies.

“We don’t want another Mallya. If something happens, who is responsible? I know exactly what is going to happen,” the ASG argued. “Here is a man with proven track record of trying to bribe others, a delay of one or two days will not make a difference for him, but we are at a crucial stage of this probe, for us a few days will make a big difference,” he argued.

Senior counsel CA Sundaram, appearing for Singal, opposed cancellation of any interim bail, saying Singal has spent 21 days in jail and already several strict restrictions have been imposed on him. There is no direct nexus to guilt shown and he is unlikely to influence any witness or evidence, he added.

Earlier in the day, the HC while granting interim bail had released Singal from custody subject to his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of Rs 2 lakh each. The court imposed several conditions, including that he would not influence witnesses or hamper the investigation. However, the HC had declined an oral plea made by the SFIO to stay the operations of the interim order for a week.

Singal, who is the first person ever to be arrested by the SFIO after it was granted the power to arrest in August 2017, has been in the judicial custody since August 8. The SFIO had arrested him in relation to investigations into the affairs of Bhushan Steel and Bhushan Steel & Power, pursuant to a May 2016 order of the Centre under the Companies Act. After insolvency resolution, the ownership and control of BSL were transferred to the Tata Group.

Challenging Section 212(6)(ii) of the Companies Act, 2013, a writ of habeas corpus filed by Singal’s mother against his arrest had alleged that his arrest was illegal as no grounds for arrest were communicated to him orally or in writing by the probe agency at the time of arrest.

She said that that the provision imposed unreasonable restrictions for grant of bail to persons arrested under the Act, thereby being violative of fundamental rights.

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