The Bombay High Court has granted bail to a former business partner of actor Vivek Oberoi, accused of defrauding him of Rs 1.55 crore.

The court noted that breach of a contract or failure to discharge contractual duties did not amount to cheating. The court granted relief to the accused, stating that the matter at hand was a corporate dispute and not a criminal offence.

The bench of Justice NJ Jamadar observed that the issue between the parties appeared to be a partnership dispute over the release of the series ‘Haddi’ on an OTT platform.

“Evidently, the alleged offences have their genesis in the partnership disputes. The matter is required to be appraised through the prism of the partnership dispute which has arisen between the partners,” the judge noted.

The court further noted that for a proceeding of a criminal offence of cheating to be established, the existence of fraudulent or dishonest intention since the inception of the transaction was required to be established.

“Mere failure to perform the contract by itself does not amount to cheating. Likewise, the same act or omission may not constitute an offence of cheating and criminal breach of trust, simultaneously. All these issues would merit adjudication at an appropriate stage in the proceedings before the Magistrate,” the court recorded in its order.

The accused, Sanjay Pran Gopal Saha, was arrested in October 2023 after Oberoi’s company, Oberoi Mega Entertainment LLP (OMEL), filed a complaint through its chartered accountant, alleging that former partners including Saha, his mother Nandita Saha, and Raadhika Pratap Nanda among others had defrauded the company.

As per the first information report (FIR), Oberoi got acquainted with Saha in February 2020 and decided to establish a firm. Both of them agreed on certain clauses. Oberoi invested Rs 27 lakh and was to get 33.33 per cent of shares.

The allegations in the FIR were that the accused siphoned off huge funds from OMEL to Anadita Entertainment LLP for various purposes unconnected with the business of the said firm. The co-accused in the case formed a separate firm by the name Anandita Entertainment LLP. Eventually, when enquired, it was discovered that Oberoi was cheated of his money to the tune of Rs 1.55 crore.

Advocates Abad Ponda, Abhishek Yende, and Surbhi Agarwal appearing for Saha submitted that a partnership dispute has been given the colour of a criminal prosecution. They stressed that the amounts which were allegedly defrauded by the accused in the case were, in fact, used for the purposes expressly authorised under the LLP agreement.

The High Court observed that the investigation in the case was practically complete as a chargesheet had also been filed, and the offences revolved around documents.

Further, the court also reasoned that Saha had roots in the city; hence, the possibility of tampering with evidence and fleeing from justice appeared to be remote.

It directed the police to release Saha on bail after he furnished a Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond of Rs 30,000 with one or two sureties.

Published By:

Srishti Jha

Published On:

Mar 6, 2024


Source link