Delhi High Court: Rajnish Bhatnagar, J., upheld the trial court decision in view of no evidence placed on record.

Petitioner is a registered valuer, running his sole proprietorship firm. Raj Kumar Karanwal, Lance Healthcare (P) Ltd., who met Y.P. Singh, Chartered Accountant wherein they discussed the matter of loan to Raj Kumar Karanwal from some banks. In the month of March, 2013 Raj Kumar Karanwal, Y.P. Singh and S.K. Verma discussed the matter of loan in the office of Raj Kumar Karanwal who informed them about his various CC Limits and deposits of his various properties title deeds with the banks.

Allegations against the petitioner were that the property of Karanwal’s were assessed by Ashugosh Nirmal, Satguru Valuers even before the actual application by Karanwal’s was moved to Corporation Bank. Petitioner claimed that he had prepared the valuation report on the asking of Corporation Bank, but according to the record, the said report was never deposited.

Further, it was stated that the petitioner, who is stated to be one of the empanelled valuer of the Corporation Bank is that he prepared inflated valuation reports in regard to the properties offered for mortgage by the borrowers. When the respondent got the same properties valued from the independent valuers, there was a huge difference between the valuation given by the petitioner and those independent valuers.

CBI investigation revealed that the petitioner was one of the bank empanelled valuer and he alongwith other co-accused persons was a part of a conspiracy to get sanctioned and disbursed CorpVyapar OD Limit Loan amounting to Rs 27 Crores to Lancer Healthcare (P) Ltd. and the petitioner alongwith other co-accused was a member of a larger conspiracy where the forged and fabricated documents were prepared of the firms/companies by inflating/exaggerating the financial records, tailor made to ensure sanction of desired loan of Rs 27 Crores. He further argued that the petitioner who was the empanelled valuer submitted false, inflated/exaggerated valuation reports to facilitate loan to the borrower co-accused.

Analysis, Law and Decision

It is a well-settled law that at the stage of framing of charge, the court has power to shift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima-facie case against accused has been made out.

Further, the Bench added that when the material placed before the court discloses great suspicion against the accused which has not been properly explained, the court will be justified in framing charge.

It is not obligatory for the judge at that stage of the trial to consider in any detail and weigh in a sensitive balance whether the facts, if proved, would be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or not. 

Standard Test before recording a finding regarding the guilt

Standard of test and judgment which is to be finally applied before recording a finding regarding the guilt or otherwise of the accused is not exactly to be applied at this stage of deciding the matter under Section 227 or under Section 228 of the Code. But at the initial stage, if there is a strong suspicion which leads the court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence, then it is not open to the court to say that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.

Whether there is a strong suspicion which may lead to the court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused committed an offence.

Bench stated that the observations made by the trial court against the petitioner in the impugned order were all a matter of evidence which cannot be decided unless and until the evidence is led in the present case.

Therefore, in Court’s opinion the trial court’s decision is upheld. [Ashughosh Kumar Nirmal v. CBI, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 410, decided on 05-02-2021]

Advocates for the parties:

For the Petitioner: Geeta Luthra, Senior Advocate with Amit Singh Rathore, Varun Deewan, Reena Rathore, Advocates.

For the Respondent: Anupam S Sharma, SPP for CBI with Prakarsh Airan and Harpreet Kalsi, Advocates.

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