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Nirav Modi bank fraud case: Sleuths caught in legal tangle

Hemant Bhatt, an employee of Nirav Modi, was charged by the CBI in the case along with retired PNB employees Gokulnath Shetty and Bishnubrata Mishra.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2018 23:55 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
nirav modi,PNB fraud,mehul choksy
A suspect in the alleged bank fraud carried out by jeweller Nirav Modi has approached a court saying his trial should be discontinued because the agency does not have the sanction to prosecute two retired Punjab National Bank (PNB) employees together with whom he has been charged.(HT Photo)

In a potential legal tangle for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a suspect in the alleged bank fraud carried out by jeweller Nirav Modi has approached a court saying his trial should be discontinued because the agency does not have the sanction to prosecute two retired Punjab National Bank (PNB) employees together with whom he has been charged.

Before the Prevention of Corruption Act was amended in July, the prosecution’s sanction was not required to try retired government servants or employees of public sector organisations.

PNB is a government-run bank which Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are alleged to have defrauded to the tune of ₹14,000 crore. Under the amended section 19 of the Act, the prosecution’s sanction is now required to try retired government personnel.

Hemant Bhatt, an employee of Nirav Modi, was charged by the CBI in the case along with retired PNB employees Gokulnath Shetty and Bishnubrata Mishra. The CBI did not seek the prosecution’s sanction to try Shetty and Mishra. In an application filed through lawyer Vijay Agarwalin a trial court in Mumbai, Bhatt argued that on July 27, the act had been amended. The court had taken cognisance of the CBI charge sheet before the amendments.

Agarwal cited previous case judgements wherein it was held that in certain circumstances, an amendment can be applied retrospectively even if they are beneficial to the accused. “While laws should generally not be retrospective, there are circumstances where retrospective laws are justified and the amendment being beneficial in nature. Therefore my client cannot be tried with these two accused,” he said.

Bhatt also said Section 17 A of the amended act mandates that there could be no probe against public servants without sanction. “The matter is sub-judice. We would not like to comment at this juncture,” said a CBI spokesman. The court sought a reply from the CBI on September 21.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 23:52 IST