“Cannot claim omnibus relief”: SC rejects PACL directors bail in multiple cases

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PACL Ltd had raised money from the public in the name of agriculture and real estate businesses to the sum of more than Rs 60,000 crore through illegal collective investment schemes (CISs) over 18 years

The Supreme Court has declined to consider a plea by directors of beleaguered PACL India Ltd. seeking bail in cases related to alleged siphoning off over Rs 40,000 crores, lodged by scores of depositors. The recovery has just been of a paltry sum, despite efforts by the investigating agencies and recommendation of Justice R M Lodha committee.

A bench of Justices A S Bopanna and M M Sundresh said the applicants have to approach the jurisdictional court for bail instead of seeking omnibus relief from this court.

The court pointed out some of the accused who approached the jurisdictional court and have got the relief.

"Most of the complaints have been given subsequent to the case registered by the CBI in which few other persons are also arrayed as accused persons. One cannot apply one bail order to all the other subsequent cases. We do not have the adequate particulars pertaining to the subsequent cases filed, like the chargesheet pertaining to the case registered by different investigating agencies. It is not as if the applicants are unable to approach the concerned courts for seeking bail," the bench said.

Two accused sought bail in the case lodged by the CBI on February 19, 2014 for offences punishable under Section 120B, 409, 411, 420, 467, 468, 471, 474 of the IPC and under Section 4, 5, and 6 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Scheme (Banning) Act, 1978. 

One accused filed a writ petition for a similar relief of bail in all other subsequent complaints filed by different informants, investigated by different authorities, spanning the entire country. 

They contended the applicants submitted that they have been suffering incarceration for more than seven years. One of the co-accused has been granted bail. They also said they have acted in good faith. Further it is not the case of respondents that they have not cooperated with the investigating agency. Since the case is based upon documentary evidence, there is no possibility of tampering with the witnesses, they submitted.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the CBI, submitted that scores of gullible investors have been duped, several families have been ruined and many died for want of money. 

"The trail of the money parked in various other countries is yet to be fully deciphered. There is not much of a headway in that regard. The chargesheet filed clearly indicates the specific role attributed to the applicants. It is not a case where this court is expected to exercise its discretion as it is well open to the applicants to approach the respective jurisdictional courts," she said.

In its order, the bench agreed to the submission made by Bhati, saying it is not willing to go into merits of the allegations.

The court dismissed the writ petition with liberty to the applicants to approach the jurisdictional court.

However, it extended the interim bail granted to the applicants for a period of three months, "taking into consideration all the difficulties expressed by the applicants, including on the ground of ill health".


Case Title: PACL Vs CBI