The controversial finance company Indiabulls suffered a huge setback on Friday after the Delhi High Court (HC) asked Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to reply on the petition seeking a probe on the alleged money laundering of more than Rs.1 Lakh crores through shell firms. The Delhi High Court decided to examine the allegations, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) headed by Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan, of financial irregularities, siphoning of funds and other violations against the promoters of Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd (IBHFL).
The bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Central Government, the RBI and Indiabulls seeking their stand on the petition filed by the NGO – Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum. The HC also issued notice to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), National Housing Bank (NHB), the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and Sameer Gehlaut, the founder and chairman of Indiabulls group and asked them to file their replies by the next date of hearing December 13.
Indiabulls had earlier opposed the plea saying it was “malicious” and “mala fide” petition which was causing loss to its business and reputation.
The bench decided to issue notice in the matter after brief arguments on behalf of the company, represented by senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and the NGO, for whom advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared in the matter. Rohatgi urged the court not to issue notice and offered to file a response without it, saying that once notice is issued then it would be flashed on news media which in turn would affect the company’s share values. The bench, however, did not agree.
The senior lawyer said that the NGO was making the allegations without doing proper research and was relying on a letter of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Indiabulls group of misappropriation of funds. Swamy has publicly released a letter he had sent in June to the prime minister, accusing the Indiabulls group of embezzling Rs.1 lakh crores from NHB.
The NGO, whose members include former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah, former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas, former IAS officer Aruna Roy and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, has sought a direction to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to order an investigation by SFIO into the irregularities alleged against Indiabulls. Apart from that, the petition has also sought a direction to RBI and NHB to investigate the financial affairs of IBHFL and to direct a special audit of IBHFL.
Indiabulls had earlier opposed the plea saying it was “malicious” and “mala fide” petition which was causing loss to its business and reputation. The PIL against Indiabulls is published in the post.