Court rejects Sivasankaran’s plea against notice Legal Correspondent imran
NEWS STATES TAMIL NADU
Court rejects Sivasankaran’s plea against notice
CHENNAI 04 OCTOBER 2020 01:16 IST
UPDATED: 04 OCTOBER 2020 01:16 IST
The businessman is under investigation for causing a loss of over ₹600 crore to IDBI Bank
The Madras High Court has refused to entertain a writ appeal preferred against a look out circular (LOC) preventing businessman and a promoter of Aircel, C. Sivasankaran, from travelling abroad due to an ongoing inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) into allegations of having caused a loss of over ₹600 crore to IDBI Bank.
Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy held that Justice P.N. Prakash had rightly dismissed a writ petition filed by the businessman, a Seychelles national who also claimed to be a diplomat, to quash the LOC issued by the Foreigner Regional Registration Officer, Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Bench pointed out that an Office Memorandum issued by the Centre in 2010, and amended in 2017, permits the FRRO to prevent individuals from travelling abroad if such departure had to be curbed in public interest.
It also rejected contentions that the petitioner enjoyed diplomatic immunity and that his civil rights could not be curtailed.
“This may involve guarantee of liberty to a person under Article 21 of the Constitution but the genesis of the action is connected with pending criminal prosecution, the umbilical cord whereof has not yet snapped,” the Bench said and added that a writ appeal could not be preferred against orders passed on a writ petiton arising out of a criminal matter.
“The contention that it involves civil rights of the appellant is, also, not correct because the relief revolves around consequences arising or likely to arise as a result of criminal prosecution… His movement inside this country being put under surveillance for the purpose of his participation in the criminal prosecution,” the Bench concluded.
In his order, Justice Prakash had listed out details of the cases booked against the petitioner. He said the CBI had found IDBI Bank to have sanctioned a loan of ₹322.40 crore to Finland based Win Wind Oy in which the businessman’s son S. Saravanan was one of the directors.
The entire loan had become a non performing asset (NPA).
Despite knowing well about the poor financial status of Siva Group of Companies led by the businessman, top officials of IDBI Bank colluded with him and extended further credit facilities of ₹523 crore in favour of group company Axcel Sunshine Limited, a company based in British Virgin Islands, for repaying loans of other associate companies.
The CBI team in Bengaluru had registered a case against Axcel Sunshine and 38 others, including some public servants, under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.
The case was registered on the basis of directions issued by the Central Vigilance Commission in New Delhi.
Subsequently, the ED also registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002 and attached properties worth ₹224.60 crore. The single judge further rejected the claim of the businessman that he was an Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Seychelles and hence enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
“The petitioner is not accredited to India. He claims himself to be a diplomat of Seychelles Republic. He is not the Ambassador of the Seychelles Republic in India,” the judge said and held that immunity under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention would not apply to him in view of the definition of the term ‘diplomatic agent’ under the convention.
“Article 31 of the Convention will not apply even in respect of a diplomatic agent in the receiving State if he were to indulge in any professional or commercial activity outside his official functions. It is no part of the official functions of the petitioner to take loans from the IDBI Bank and then engage in money laundering,” the judge said