Grant of bail in cases of cheating and criminal breach of trust affecting large number of people would have an adverse impact on trust of criminal justice system

Delhi High Court: Rejecting the bail application of Sunil Dahiya, MD of Vigneshwara Group of Companies  under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Court held that: “ The grant of regular bail in a case involving cheating, criminal breach of trust by an agent, of such a large magnitude of money, affecting a very large number of people would also have an adverse impact not only in the progress of the case, but also on the trust of the criminal justice system that people repose. It would certainly not be safe for the society. In case the applicant accused is granted regular bail, it is also likely that he may tamper with the evidence/witnesses, or even threaten them considering that the stake for the accused is high. It is also very much likely that looking to the high stakes, the nature and extent of his involvement, and his resources, he may flee from justice.”
It is pertinent to note that Sunil Dahiya was arrested and had been in judicial custody following complaints from investors who had allegedly been duped after investing money in two projects for construction of IT parks in Gurgaon and Manesar. It is was alleged that funds to the tune of around Rs 600 crores have been siphoned off by the accused by colluding, conspiring, ganging up with his family members and illegally benefiting from the complainants’ money on the false pretext of providing lucrative returns.
Mr Dahiya was represented by Senior Counsel Arvind Nigam who argued that, the right to automatic bail under the said provision stems from the fundamental right of personal liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution and it is violative of Article 21, if an undertrial prisoner is detained in judicial custody for an indefinite period. It is pertinent to note that Dahiya had been in judicial custody since October 30, 2014 and relied upon Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2012) 1 SCC 40 to support Dahiya’s application for bail.
Whereas, the  Addl. Public Prosecutor relied upon Sunil Grover v. State, 2012 SCC Online Del 3539 and tried to distinguish the situation in Sanjay Chandra from the present case, by stating that in Sanjay Chandra, exchequer was put to loss by not holding auction of government resources, however in the present case general members of the public have been directly put to loss.
The Bench of  Vipin Sanghi, J. while considering the factors to grant bail laid as down  in Dipak Shubhash Chandra Mehta v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2012) 4 SCC 134  and relying on Neeru Yadav v. State of U.P., (2014) 16 SCC 508 dismissed the bail application. The Court also stated that ‘the applicant accused appears to be a person with deep pockets. If he could manipulate and dupe more than 1,000 investors to invest in his projects, he may as well be able to influence these investors, other witnesses and the evidence to save his own skin’ and cited Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2013) 7 SCC 439 in which it was held that: “Economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach in the matter of bail. The economic offences having deep rooted conspiracies and involving huge loss of public funds need to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offences affecting the economy of the country as a whole and thereby posing serious threat to the financial health of the country.” The Court also concurred with the view in Sunil Grover case in which the bail of the accused was rejected by the Court on similar grounds. [Sunil Dahiya v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5566, decided on October 18, 2016]

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