Bail for Rana Kapoor: Keeping him in jail any further would be 'pre-trial conviction', says court

Bail for Rana Kapoor: Keeping him in jail any further would be 'pre-trial conviction', says court

Mumbai | A special CBI court in Mumbai that granted bail to Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor in a fraud case has observed that any further incarceration without trial would amount to "pre-trial conviction" of the banker.

Kapoor walked out of jail on Friday evening after being granted bail by special CBI Judge M G Deshpande in the last pending case against him, also involving the Avantha Group.

Kapoor was arrested in March 2020 in a money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He was booked in eight cases by ED and Central Bureau of Investigation related to fraud at the Yes Bank.

The court, in its order that was made available on Saturday, said there is no justification as to why the applicant, who has already spent over 4 years in custody for numerous other cases, should be detained further, especially when he has been granted bail in all other cases.

Kapoor's continued detention "would amount to pre-trial conviction", the judge said.

It noted the prosecution failed to satisfy the court "regarding the commencement and conclusion of simultaneous trials for this CBI Special case and PMLA Special case (against him)".

"He (the special public prosecutor) cannot justify why the 66-year-old applicant, who suffers from multiple health issues as outlined in the bail application, should remain incarcerated indefinitely," the court further said.

Even if there is a prima-facie case against the accused and if there is no reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witnesses or evidence, or absconding from the trial, the accused is entitled to bail pending trial, it observed.

"It is significant to note the applicant (Kapoor) has deep roots in society and Mumbai. He has a family comprising an unmarried daughter and a wife who are dependent on him. He is no longer associated with Yes Bank and has no access to its records for any apprehension of tampering with it," the court said.

Therefore, after his release, there is no question of threatening or pressuring prosecution witnesses or tampering with the evidence. Additionally, considering the responsibility towards his unmarried daughter and wife, there is no likelihood that he would leave India and thus pose a flight risk, the court added.

The special judge, in his order, also quoted recent statements made by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud that expressed deep concern over lower courts being reluctant to grant bail.

The CJI, while addressing a gathering, had said "there is also a rising apprehension that district courts are increasingly reluctant to entertain matters concerning personal liberty".

Referring to the CJI's comments, the special judge said, "If this (special) court ignores the true essence and spirit of these spiritual profound words, it would amount to deceitfulness, dishonesty and charlatanry,"

"This court cannot be an example for the lamentable state of affairs expressed by the Chief Justice of India. Nor can it ignore the sincere apprehensions expressed by the chief justice," he added.

The CBI has filed a chargesheet against Kapoor and Avantha Group promoter Gautam Thapar in the case in which the former got bail on Friday.

The CBI had alleged that Kapoor, then managing director and chief executive officer of Yes Bank Limited (YBL), obtained "illegal gratification" (bribe) in the form of a property located at a prime location in Delhi at a price much less than its market value for sanctioning a loan.

The property belonging to Avantha Realty Ltd (ARL) was already mortgaged for a loan taken by the company from Yes Bank.

It was purchased for Rs 378 crore against the market value of Rs 685 crore by Bliss Abode Private Limited, run by Rana Kapoor's wife Bindu Kapoor, in 2017.

Yes Bank, which had already extended credit facilities of Rs 2500 crore to various Avantha Group companies, granted another loan of Rs 400 crore to ARL as part of the quid pro quo deal, as per the CBI.

Kapoor, as MD and CEO of YBL, was the head of the lender's Management Credit Committee (MCC), which approved the loan, the agency said.

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