High Court Grants Bail To 2 Accused In Multi-Crore Taxi App Fraud Case

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The Delhi High Court has granted bail to two directors of an app-based taxi company, accused of duping hundreds of people of Rs 250 crore after promising them huge returns on investing in the firm.
Justice Subramonium Prasad enlarged the two accused on bail noting that they have been in custody for over a year now and their continued custody was no longer required.

“Both the petitioners have been in custody for over a year now. Charge sheet as well as supplementary charge sheet have been filed, and all the evidence available is documentary in nature and in custody of the investigating agency.

“Whether or not the cheated money was entrusted to the petitioners (accused) is a matter of trial and cannot be taken into consideration at this juncture. This court is, therefore, of the opinion that continued custody of the petitioners is no longer required and that both the petitioners should be enlarged on bail,” the court said.

The court directed accused Sunder Singh Bhati and Rajesh Mahto to furnish personal bonds of Rs 1.5 lakh each with two sureties of the like amount and not to tamper with the evidence or try to influence witnesses in the case.

“In case it is established that the petitioners have tried to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence, the bail granted to them shall stand cancelled forthwith,” it said.

While Bhati was arrested on December 9, 2020, Mahto was arrested on August 22, 2020.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police had arrested the two directors of ‘Hello Taxi’ company for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore fraud case.

According to the prosecution, the two accused along with other business partners had allegedly duped hundreds of people by promising higher rates of interest, up to 200 per cent, on a monthly basis on investment in the company.

A complaint was filed by ex-serviceman, Dharmender Singh, stating that SMP IMPEX Pvt Ltd (Hello Taxi) and its directors or officials — Dr Saroj Mahapatra, Rajesh Mahto, Daisy Vijay Menon and Sunder Singh Bhati and other unknown persons had committed cheating and fraud.

The prosecutors opposed the bail pleas saying the case involves cheating of large amount, involving over 900 investors.

They submitted that Bhati had previously been declared a proclaimed offender and he never joined investigation despite several notices being issued to him and many witnesses or complainants have specifically taken name of the accused who took active part in the meetings for inducement.

The counsel for Bhati submitted that the accused has been languishing in jail since December 2020 and no recovery has been made from him or at his instance and that there was no link tying him to the alleged scam.

He also brought to the court’s attention that Bhati was neither an authorised signatory nor a director of the accused company and that there was nothing to suggest that he was associated with the firm.

The counsel for Mahto also claimed that there was no evidence to indicate that he had induced the investors and concocted lies about RBI authorisation.

He submitted that the trial court has erred in failing to acknowledge that most of the complainants have not mentioned Mahto’s name and that he was merely a non-executive director and only received Rs 11 lakhs, which was his remuneration, out of the alleged cheated amount of Rs 250 crore.

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