In a setback to fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi and his wife, the Supreme Court has restored a cheating case lodged by the Gujarat Police, while setting aside a 2017 order of the state high court quashing the FIR against them.
Mehul Choksi, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is also an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case in which they allegedly defrauded the bank of over Rs 14,000 crore.
Forgery and Cheating Allegations
According to the FIR registered in 2015 in Gujarat by complainant Digvijaysinh Himmatsinh Jadeja, Choksi and his wife stand accused of offences of forgery and cheating in connection with a business transaction involving 24 karat pure gold bars worth Rs 30 crore.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, in its November 29 verdict, set aside a May 5, 2017 order of the high court, and asked the police to proceed with its probe.
Supreme Court Verdict and Police Probe
"The observations in this order will not be read as comments or observations on the merits of the case. Investigation will continue without being influenced by any of the findings or observations made in the impugned judgement or in the present order," the bench said.
It said while conducting the probe, the investigating officer will keep in mind the rulings of the apex court and various high courts interpreting sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 464 (forgery) and 465 (punishment for forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.
High Court Scrutiny Criticized
It said the high court order allowing the prayer for quashing the January 23, 2015 FIR showed that a detailed factual examination and evaluation was undertaken which was not necessary at that stage when the investigation was still on.
"We are of the opinion that the said examination and evaluation should not have been done by the high court," the bench said.
It added there were disputed questions of fact as Choksi and his wife Priti pleaded that two agreements dated July 25, 2013 and August 13, 2013 were not binding on their company Geetanjali Jewellery Retail Limited (GJRL), which was a subsidiary of Gitanjali Gems Limited (GGL).
The bench said the complainant has submitted that the agreements were valid and binding.