Hello Taxi scam: Delhi HC grants bail to 2 defendants in multi-crore taxi app fraud case
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday 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. The court directed accused fraudsters 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. 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. The charge sheet, as well as supplementary charge sheets, have been filed, and all the evidence available is documentary in nature and in the 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. 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 percent, on a monthly basis on investment in the company. A complaint was filed by an 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 amounts, involving over 900 investors.
They submitted that Bhati had previously been declared a proclaimed offender and he never joined the investigation despite several notices being issued to him and many witnesses or complainants have specifically taken the name of the accused who took an active part in the meetings for inducement. The counsel for Mahto also claimed that there was no evidence to indicate that he had induced the investors and concocted lies about RBI authorization. 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.
[with PTI inputs]
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