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|September 28, 1999||
Harshad Mehta sentenced to five years' RI
The Bombay high court today awarded five years rigorous imprisonment to securities scam accused Harshad Mehta and three others in the sensational Rs 380.97 million Maruti Udyog Ltd fraud case.
Special court judge, Justice M S Rane, who had yesterday convicted Mehta along with three others, pronounced this judgment today. Former MUL deputy finance manager Pramod Kumar Manocha, former assistant manager of the United Commercial Bank Vinayak Deosthali and former ANZ Grindlays Bank officer Ram Narayan Popli were also sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment.
Justice Rane, who has been hearing the infamous securities scam case for the last seven years, sentenced the foursome to five years rigorous imprisonment after the court found them guilty under various sections and provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Another co-accused Ambuj Jain of MUL was yesterday acquitted by Justice Rane.
The Central Bureau of Investigation in its charge-sheet had alleged that the accused had misappropriated four cheques aggregating Rs 380.97 million drawn by MUL from Canara Bank in favour of ANZ Grindlays Bank and urged for life imprisonment for the accused.
The cheque numbers and the details of the misappropriation by Mehta are: cheque number 645585 dated March 13, 1991 for Rs 10,11,50,000; cheque number 646502 dated March 18, 1991 for Rs 10,83,75,000; cheque number 863237 dated April 24, 1991 for Rs 7,62,45,000 and cheque number 863230 dated May 2, 1991 for Rs 38,97,50,000, totally aggregating Rs 38,97,20,000. The amount was drawn by MUL on its bankers, Canara Bank, Sansad Marg branch, New Delhi in favour of the Grindlays Bank.
The prosecution alleged that the accused conspired and committed a punishable offence under section 403 of the IPC. The judge found the accused had ''criminally conspired'' and committed the offence.
The CBI found Manocha guilty of criminal conspiracy for helping prime accused Mehta. He dishonestly delivered 3.5 million units of Unit Trust of India valued at Rs 40.99 million to Mohan Khandelwal, the then manager of Harshad Mehta's firm at New Delhi. Khandalwal later turned approver and deposed against Mehta.
The CBI also alleged that Deosthali forged a letter on January 23, 1991 with dishonest intent and authorised remittance of funds to the Bank of America, New Delhi, amounting to Rs 4,99,45,000. He is also alleged to have connived with Manocha in transferring the UTI shares to Khandelwal. In this process he was found to have forged several letters and has been found guilty under several sections of the IPC.
Popli, instead of crediting the Grindlays bank account, favoured Mehta by transferring Rs 5,05,03,250 to Mehta's account.
Mehta will challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court. On the other hand the CBI will also challenge the judgment in the apex court. The Bureau called it ''too less a punishment''.
Justice Rane today stayed his order till November 2 to enable Mehta and the other accused to approach the Supreme Court. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each, failing which the period of rigorous imprisonment will be extended by one year.
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