Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Court rejects plea to defreeze account of Yash Birla firm

The court has ruled that the Rs 64.87 lakh in the current account of the company, whose employee has been named as an accused, is an allegedly misappropriated ‘public amount’.

February 7, 2017 3:37:34 am

A SESSIONS court has rejected an application by Birla Shloka Edutech Limited seeking defreezing of its current account seized by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau investigating a case of alleged misappropriation of government funds of over Rs 24 crore meant for backward students. The court has ruled that the Rs 64.87 lakh in the current account of the company, whose employee has been named as an accused, is an allegedly misappropriated ‘public amount’. In 2014, an investigation was started by the ACB on allegations of Maharashtra state ministers that there was alleged corruption and misappropriation at the hands of Prashant Bhaskar, personal assistant of former minister Shivaji Moghe, allegedly in collusion with four companies including Birla Shloka Edutech Limited, part of the Yash Birla Group.

The ACB has claimed that a Government resolution of 2012 had assigned the work of imparting computer education to the four companies for Nashik, Aurangabad and Latur. The ACB case states that while the required education was not imparted to the students, bill amounts were obtained on the basis of forged and fabricated documents of the muster of students. According to the prosecution, over Rs 10 crore was allegedly received by Birla Shloka.

Advocate Dinesh Dubey, appearing for Birla Shloka, argued that two years after the investigation began, the ACB is yet to file a chargesheet in the case. He also told the court that the company is reputed and requires to spend on salary, statutory dues, claiming that the money lying idle in the bank is causing a loss. The ACB opposed the plea saying that the investigation is yet to be completed. It argued that the state government was cheated by the accused by a false muster prepared of students who were to be imparted computer education.

“The work of investigation is vast in view of 15 thousand students in 371 hostels throughout Maharashtra having thousands of documents…Assuming that most of the investigation is completed, in that circumstances also frozen amount is less than 10 per cent of allegedly misappropriated amount,” the order by Additional Sessions Judge MK Mahajan states. The order further said that it was ‘unbelievable’ that because the amount is frozen, the company is ‘handicapped to meet expenses’. The Judge said that if the offences are proved against the accused, it would be difficult to recover the amount if the account is defreezed.

The company alternatively argued that since the investigation may take time, the amount be deposited in a fixed deposit till the final outcome, for interest on it. The court allowed this plea directing for the Rs 64.87 lakh to be deposited in the name of an official of the ACB for the initial period of three years which would be continued further till the case is over. It has left the decision on the amount and its interest to the final decision by the trial court.

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