Punjab and Haryana High Court grants bail to petitioner accused of forging bills worth Rs 367 crore
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to a petitioner accused of forging bills worth Rs 367 crore while observing the proceedings are at the pre-charge stage in which 37 prosecution witnesses still remain to be examined and the same is likely to take a long time to conclude.
A single-judge bench of Justice Deepak Sibal allowed the bail petition filed by the petitioner for the grant of regular bail in Complaint dated 18.11.2021 registered under Section 132 of Haryana Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and Central Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 read with Section 20 of the Integrated Goods & Services Tax Act, 2017.
The case of the prosecution is that the petitioner managed three firms. Through these firms, the petitioner availed input tax credit by fabricating invoices resulting in the generation of bills worth Rs 367 crore and evasion from payment of Goods and Services Tax (for short, GST) to the tune of Rs 26 crore.
Senior counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that the petitioner has been falsely implicated in this case; he is in custody since 21.09.2021; the maximum sentence which can be awarded to him is 5 years; investigation in the case is complete and therefore the petitioner is not in a position to influence the same; even the charges have not yet been framed against the petitioner; 37 prosecution witness still remain to be examined at the pre-charge stage and therefore, if at all the petitioner is put to trial, the same will take a long time to conclude; even otherwise, the evidence collected by the prosecution is primarily documentary in nature; most of the material witnesses already stand examined at the pre-charge stage and that no serious apprehension has been expressed by the prosecution that the petitioner would either flee from justice or would tamper with the evidence in case he is released on bail.
State counsel opposed the grant of bail to the petitioner on the ground that the petitioner is the main accused in a scam involving evasion of GST to the tune of crores of rupees and that in case he is released on bail, he is likely to influence the witnesses and in turn the course of his trial.
Primarily, the evidence collected by the State against the petitioner is documentary; investigation in this case is complete; it is not the case of the State that during the course of investigation the petitioner did not cooperate; the petitioner has already undergone actual custody of nearly 1 year and 5 months; even if convicted, the maximum sentence which can be imposed on him is 5 years; most of the material witnesses for the prosecution, at the precharge stage, stand examined; the proceedings that the petitioner faces are presently at the pre-charge stage in which 37 prosecution witnesses still remain to be examined and that in case the petitioner is even put to trial, the same is likely to take a long time to conclude, the bench observed.
Therefore, the Court ordered that the present case is considered to be a fit one in which the petitioner be directed to be released on regular bail. Resultantly, subject to the satisfaction of the CJM/Duty Magistrate, Gurugram, which shall include the condition of the deposit of the petitioner’s valid passport, if any, the petitioner is directed to be released on bail.