Millennium Post

Apex court seeks CBI’s response on PACL’s plea for clubbing of FIRs

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the CBI on a plea of Pearls Agrotech Corporation Ltd (PACL), accused of not refunding over Rs 49,100 crore to its investors under various chit-fund schemes, that over 70 FIRs filed against it and its promoters across the country be clubbed with the case being probed by the central agency.

“You (CBI) file your response. List it for hearing on January 10, 2017,” a bench comprising Justices A R Dave and A M Khanwilkar said when the counsel, representing PACL and its promoters and directors including Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, submitted that the filing of FIRs across the country against them was causing harassment to the accused. The firm said the accused were taken on police remand by state police on filing of a fresh FIR leading to harassment.

The probe agency, however, expressed difficulty in amalgamating nearly 75 FIRs against the firm and its promoters and directors on several grounds including that it faced severe staff crunch. CBI also said that in some cases, charge-sheets have already been filed after completion of investigation by state police and hence, no purpose would be served by taking over the probe. The court, however, asked the agency to respond to the plea and fixed the case for hearing on January 10.

Meanwhile, the Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) informed the court that its previous effort to dispose of properties of PACL through auctioning, to pay back investors, has not yielded results.

Advocate Pratap Venugopal, appearing for SEBI, said the next round of auction “will commence from November 30” and the market regulator has been taking note of the documents furnished to it by the CBI. Earlier, the apex court had restrained the firm and its promoters from disposing of its properties both in India and abroad after SEBI had alleged that the company has siphoned off 98 million dollars in Australia. 
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