The Delhi High Court has allowed the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to interrogate former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh, his brother Malvinder and two others in connection with an ongoing probe into the affairs of Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL) and Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL).
Justice Vibhu Bakhru allowed the SFIO to interrogate the Singh brothers, former CMD of REL Sunil Godhwani and Kavi Arora for two weeks from January 1, 2021 onwards.
All four were arrested by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police last year, for allegedly diverting RFL’s money and investing in other companies.
However, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had directed SFIO to investigate affairs of REL in 2018 and thereafter, in February this year it was also asked to probe into the affairs of RFL, the agency had said in its plea.
The SFIO had moved the high court against a September 22 order of the trial court denying it permission to examine the four who are presently in judicial custody.
The trial court had denied the permission saying the agency was allowed to examine them earlier and that was sufficient.
The high court disagreed with the trial court decision saying “if SFIO requires to examine the respondents (Singh brothers and others) and interrogate them in respect of certain facts that have emerged during the course of investigation, the petitioner (SFIO), as an investigating agency, must be granted full access to the respondents to do so”.
The counsel for Shivinder said his client has no objection to being examined by the SFIO officials, but due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic the number of officials examining them be limited to bare minimum.
The court said the apprehension expressed by Shivinder was understandable and directed the SFIO to ensure that the officials in its team deputed to interrogate the respondents do not exceed three in number.
“It is also clarified that in the event there is any hearing fixed before the court, the concerned officials of the petitioner shall ensure that respondents are not impeded or prevented from joining those proceedings,” the high court said and disposed of SFIO’s plea.
The EOW registered an FIR in March last year after it received a complaint from RFL’s Manpreet Suri against Shivinder, Godhwani and others, alleging that loans were taken by them while managing the firm but the money was invested in other companies.
The Enforcement Directorate lodged a money laundering case based on this.
RFL is a group firm of REL, which was earlier promoted by Malvinder and his brother Shivinder. PTI HMP
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