Return Jignesh Shah’s passport: Bombay high court orders CBI
In a major reprieve for embattled businessman Jignesh Shah, the Bombay high court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to return the impounded passport of the Financial Technology India Limited (FTIL) founder.
Justice PD Naik held that the seizure of the passport by CBI officials was contrary to Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and ordered the agency to return the 51-year-old’s passport within three weeks.
Referring to a Supreme Court ruling, the judge said Section 102 of CrPC empowers investigation agencies to seize any property or thing during the course of investigation, only if that property or thing is stolen, suspected to be stolen, an object of commission of the crime or had direct links with the crime in question, and not otherwise.
Justice Naik further said that the offence alleged against Shah was of forgery and misappropriation of funds, and his possessing a passport had no direct nexus with the purported crime.
The CBI had booked the FTIL founder and several others for allegedly “hatching a conspiracy to cheat Project and Equipment Corporation of India Limited (PEC Ltd), a public sector undertaking, and siphon off its funds by floating accommodative and fraudulent paired contracts for trading in agro commodities on the platform of NSEL without actually undertaking any genuine trade.”
An FIR was registered in this regard on February 12, 2014 for the offences under Section 120-B read with 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 474 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Sections 13(2) read with Section 13(1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The CBI has further charged the accused persons of preparing fake warehouse receipts and allocation letters, and other documents in pursuance of the conspiracy, by which wrongful loss was caused to PEC Ltd and corresponding wrongful gain to the accused.
While investigating the crime, the CBI on March 13, 2014 conducted searches at Shah’s residential and office premises, and seized various documents, including his passport. Shah had approached the high court after the special CBI court, in September 2017, rejected his plea seeking return of his passport.