Supertech promoter granted bail, court cites lack of proof

A Delhi court on Thursday granted bail to Supertech promoter Ram Kishor Arora, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in June 2023 in connection with a money laundering case, noting that Arora could demonstrate reasonable grounds to believe he is not guilty and is unlikely to commit any offense while on bail.

RK Arora (HT Photo)

The Delhi court on Thursday held that Arora met the twin conditions for bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as well as the triple test under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), making him entitled for the relief.

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“Considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, the applicant/accused Ram Kishor Arora is admitted to bail on furnishing a bail bond in the sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- with two sureties in the like amount,” said additional sessions judge Devender Kumar Jangala.

ED filed a charge sheet against Arora and nine others on August 26, 2023, alleging that proceeds of crime amounting to 638.93 crore, collected from homebuyers and borrowed from banks, were diverted by Supertech to its group companies for property purchases and companies with less valuable land, leading to illegal gains.

The federal agency’s case against Arora was based on several first information reports (FIRs) filed by the economic offences wings (EOWs) of the police forces of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, alleging that he cheated homebuyers.

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While granting him bail, the court noted that three FIRs against Arora had been quashed, and no coercive orders had been passed in eight cases due to settlements. Only a few FIRs are left unresolved, and Arora submitted that he is in the process of settling with the remaining homebuyers.

“The fact of quashing of three FIRs on the basis of settlement and grant of no coercive order/protection to the applicant/accused in 8 cases on the basis of settlement with the home buyers and talk of settlement in remaining FIRs, is definitely a relevant factor to be considered at the time of consideration of bail to the applicant/accused,” the judge said in his order.

It was also observed that ED initially claimed that an amount of 228 crore was proceeds of crime, but the federal agency later increased the amount to 697 crore when the charge sheet was filed.

Arora’s legal team pointed out that his company had reserves and surplus of more than 600 crore in the financial years 2012-15, which ED alleged was a diversion of funds from homebuyers.

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The court noted that the ED did not rebut this contention.

Arora also provided explanations for the transfer of funds to subsidiary companies, which the federal agency alleged was for personal gain. “The explanations given by the applicant/accused are corroborated by bank statements and a Chartered Accountant’s certificate. Thus, the transfer of funds by the applicant/accused company, from net profit, intra-company loans, and corporate loans, appears plausible,” the court said, highlighting the lack of criminal intent.

The court also dismissed ED’s claim that loans taken by Arora’s company from banks and financial institutions were diverted and became non-performing assets. It noted that no FIRs had been filed by the banks, and without a scheduled offence, ED’s contentions were beyond its jurisdiction.

Conclusively, the court found that Arora satisfied the twin conditions under PMLA. Additionally, it noted that Arora has strong social ties, did not misuse his interim bail, and the case evidence is documentary, reducing the risk of tampering or witness influence, thus meeting the CrPC’s triple test for bail too.

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