Neeraj Singal’s interim bail to continue: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said interim bail granted to Bhushan Steel’s erstwhile promoter Neeraj Singal by the Delhi High Court in an alleged Rs 2,500-crore fraud case will continue.

A bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it was only allowing the interim bail to continue and stayed the interim order passed by the high court on other aspects and transferred the matter to itself.

The court said the operation of the rest of the judgement regarding various aspects, including the SFIO’s power to arrest and investigate, will be deliberated later.

The high court, while granting interim bail to Singal, had made some pertinent observations with respect to Section 212 of the Companies Act.

Section 212 of the Companies Act is a code as far as the procedure for arrest, investigation and prosecution of the offences under the Companies Act is concerned.

In the apex court it was contended by the SFIO that the investigation report under Section 212 (15) is not the final report as contemplated under Section 173 CrPC and it is only “for the purpose of framing charges”.

The court’s order came on the plea of Serious Frauds Investigation Office’s (SFIO) plea challenging the grant of the bail to Singal. The Centre too had moved the court challenging the high court order.

The SFIO had accused Singal of siphoning off Rs 2,500 crore of public funds. It had argued before the top court that his release will cause grave harm to the ongoing investigation, which has reached an advanced stage.

Singal is out of jail after the bail was granted on his habeas corpus petition filed by his mother. The counsel appearing for Singal’s mother had contended that his arrest was illegal as the complaint was made under one law and his arrest was made under another.

Imposing conditions while granting interim bail to Neeraj Singal and directing him to co-operate with the investigation, the high court had on August 29 said that “he shall not be compelled by the SFIO to sign his statement under Section 217 (4) read with Section 217 (7) of the Companies Act.”

Section 217 of the Companies Act lays down the procedure and powers of the inspectors.

It had also said that the interim bail would continue “till an investigation report is filed in the Special Court in terms of Sections 212 (14) read with Section 212 (15) Companies Act, at which stage the petitioner will, if it so necessitated, have to seek regular bail from the Special Court, subject of course to the further orders in the main writ petition.”