PNB fraud: Supreme Court refuses to step in, says let govt probe

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to intervene in a plea concerning the PNB fraud worth Rs11,400-crore involving jeweller Nirav Modi, saying it would allow the government to investigate the issue for now.

“This is playing to the gallery. Let the government do its duty and investigate. We will step in later, if required,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

The plea seeking Modi’s deportation and an investigation into the top management of Punjab National Bank (PNB) was also opposed by attorney general K.K. Venugopal from being taken up at this point in time.

A similar view was expressed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who said, “We are here to address only legal issues. Big emotional speeches will have no impact.”

Misra added that it amounted to misuse of the legal provision of filing a public interest litigation (PIL) for publicity.

The fraud involves foreign branches of Indian banks lending to companies of Nirav Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, based on guarantees fraudulently issued by PNB officials.

The case is currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The plea, brought by advocate Vineet Dhanda along with an investigation into top management of the bank, had sought deportation of Nirav Modi and others involved, at the earliest.

It also sought a court direction to the finance ministry to put in place guidelines for grant and sanction of loans above Rs10 crore, and constitution of an expert committee to look into bad debts.

Another PIL by advocate M.L. Sharma seeking creation of a special investigation team (SIT) for probe into the fraud has also been filed in the apex court.

The whereabouts of Modi, who was already under investigation by CBI in connection with an earlier complaint by PNB, are not known.

The employees allegedly issued authorized so-called letters of undertaking (LoUs) that helped Modi’s companies raise credit abroad.

It is believed that they did so without making any entries in the bank’s books or recording them in the core banking system.

The international branches of many Indian banks, including Allahabad Bank, Axis Bank, State Bank of India (SBI), Union Bank of India and some foreign banks, lent to Modi’s companies based on these guarantees.livemint