Bombay HC quashes chargesheet against lawyer in cheating case

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Mumbai, Sept 29: The Bombay High Court has quashed a charge sheet filed by CBI in a lower court against a 60-year-old woman advocate, who was accused of cheating a nationalised bank by conspiring with borrowers.

However, the case against other accused in the lower court would continue, a bench headed by Justice S C Dharmadhikari ruled on September 24.

The bench came down heavily on CBI for accusing the advocate Mohana Raj Nair without her fault in the case in which she had given legal opinion to the Indian Bank which had been cheated. However, the judges let go the agency with a warning.

"We believe that this is a fit case for the award of costs against the CBI and in favour of the petitioner, and that these costs should not be illusory. For three long years, the petitioner has had her till then unsullied professional reputation besmirched, and for no good reason.

That they have done so is plain. It stares us in the face. For no fault of her own, the petitioner has lost a client," said the judges. "But she has also had to suffer the slings and arrows of a truly outrageous fortune at the hands of CBI.

However, since in a very similar case of Narayana Rao, the Supreme Court did not impose costs, we follow suit and stay our hands," the judges said in their order.

"We do so just this once. Should happenstance bring another such case before us, the CBI will not find us quite so accommodating," the bench remarked while allowing the petition filed by the aggrieved lawyer.

Nair, through her legal firm was on the panel of Indian Bank and rendered legal advice on titles to immovable properties. In one such set of transactions, borrowers did not submit original documents to Indian bank and instead pledged them with other banks thereby defrauding the banks.

Despite Nair stating in her legal opinion that the original documents were not produced and should be asked for, CBI filed a charge sheet naming her as one of the accused.

The judges said they did not find a prima facie case against the lawyer (who had given a legal opinion based on her knowledge of law and study of documents) for playing a role in the fraud and added that no case was made out against her. 

PTI

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