While considering a bail application filed by the petitioner seeking anticipatory bail in a case registered under Sections 420/468/471 of IPC, the Delhi High Court has granted anticipatory bail to a man accused of cheating a supplier of bakelite sheets and laminated boards, based on the delay in filing of FIR and the accused's cooperation with the investigation.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar observed that “Looking into the facts and circumstances of the case, custodial interrogation of the petitioner is not required. He has already joined the investigation on numerous occasions and all the sections invoked against the petitioner entail punishment up to 7 years. In these circumstances, the application is allowed and it is ordered that in the event of arrest, the petitioner be released on bail”.

Advocate Jatan Singh appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Advocate Amit Ahlawat appeared for the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case were that a case was registered, based on a complaint made by one Manish Jain, who, in his complaint, alleged that he had been running a business under the name of M/s Bahubali Industries and there had been business dealings between the complainant and the petitioner. The complainant had supplied goods on different occasions, supported by various invoices, and a total sum of Rs. 28,26,248 was owed by the petitioner. It was alleged that the petitioner had repeatedly provided false assurances of payment but had failed to fulfil the commitment. The complainant had attempted to contact the petitioner to settle the outstanding balance in exchange for the supplied goods, but the petitioner did not make the payment. It was also submitted that similar complaint had also been filed by the complainant's father, who claimed to be the owner of M/s Bahubali Traders. In that complaint, the petitioner was accused of buying goods worth Rs. 13,67,581 but failing to make the payment.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that the case had been given a criminal colour to what was essentially a civil dispute. Additionally, it was emphasized that the petitioner had cooperated fully during the investigation, and there were no outstanding amounts to be recovered from him. Furthermore, it was pointed out that there had been a significant delay of over three years in filing the current FIR. This delay was seen as an attempt to exert pressure on the petitioner, particularly because the statutory limitation period for filing a money suit is three years, which had already expired.

On the other hand, the Assistant Public Prosecutor representing the State and the counsel for the complainant argued that the allegations against the petitioner were of a grave nature. They further contended that the petitioner had sent a photograph of an e-way bill to the complainant's mobile phone, informing him about the return of the goods. However, the complainant asserted that he never received the goods, and it was discovered that the vehicle number mentioned in the e-way bill did not correspond to any existing vehicle.

After considering the submission, the Bench noted that the prosecution did not dispute the fact that the petitioner had willingly cooperated with the investigating officer, whenever he was summoned for questioning.

The Bench further found that underlying transaction in question dates back to 2019, whereas the present FIR was registered in 2022.

Although the APP had contended that the petitioner had not cooperated in the investigation, however, the Bench considered this assertion to be unsubstantiated, as the status report did not provide any specific details regarding how the petitioner had failed to cooperate in the investigation.

On the contrary, the Bench observed that the petitioner had consistently participated in the investigation during the period when he was granted protection by the Sessions Court.

Therefore, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court determined that there was no need for the petitioner to undergo custodial interrogation.

Consequently, the bail application was allowed, and it was ordered that in the event of the petitioner's arrest, he should be released on bail.

Cause Title: Sanjeev Jain v. State and Anr. [Neutral Citation: 2023: DHC: 6867]

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