Actis case: Accused move Delhi HC seeking quashing of FIR

A co-accused - Supermax Personal Care Pvt Ltd. (SPCPL), an SM Group company - in its petition has said that the order passed “reflects non application of judicial mind and has been mechanically passed by the Court”.

Reuters
NEW DELHI: Barely a week after the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police booked Britain’s leading private equity firm “Actis” and 12 others, a number of accused have moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the FIR.

Describing allegations levelled against them as "totally false, fictitious, baseless and without any legal substance", the accused have alleged that the judgment passed by the lower Court is “perverse and erroneous”.

A co-accused - Supermax Personal Care Pvt Ltd. (SPCPL), an SM Group company - in its petition has said that the order passed “reflects non application of judicial mind and has been mechanically passed by the Court”.


EOW booked a total of 13 accused on August 19 which includes: Actis LLP (UK), Actis Consumer Grooming Products Ltd (Mauritius), Wesley International Ltd. (Dubai) and employees/associates of Actis including British nationals Ronald Edward Bell, Alan Greenough. Also, the list includes Anindo Mukherji, group CEO and Ketan Desai, group CFO of SM group of companies.

In its petition, SPCPL has said that the allegations levelled against them “have no criminal flavour or element”.

It has alleged that EOW had already submitted a report earlier this year in January after a six month long “investigation” in which it held that there was “no cognisable offence was found”.
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The accused have alleged that the private complaint filed in the lower Court was done by the complainant at the behest of Rakesh Malhotra, promoter of Super-Max (SM) group.

The petition alleges that Malhotra has for the last nearly four years been engaged in various civil proceedings with Actis Consumer Grooming Products Limited (ACGPL) and the management of the SM group spread over various courts, fora and tribunals across the World.

“The FIR is based on a vexatious complaint filed by the complainant and appears to have been motivated by a desire to harass, threaten, intimidate and prevent the petitioners from giving evidence in the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) proceedings against Rakesh Malhotra and others who are scheduled to file their witness statements/affidavits in October. The allegations levelled in the FIR do not make out any case whatsoever against the petitioners”, reads the petition.

When reached for comment, Advocate Nirvikar Singh, counsel for Malhotra said “The accused have a legal right to challenge the FIR lodged against them. The matter is sub judice. But the allegations levelled against my client are scurrilous, to say the least”.
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The petition(s), which are likely to come up for hearing on Friday, further allege that Rakesh Malhotra’s “campaign to prevent the sale of the Super-Max business and to return it to his own control is both long-standing and well-documented”.

It adds “these proceedings are a fallout of ACGPL having exercised its contractual rights and having removed Rocky as the executive Chairman of the SM group and taken control over the SM group. The allegations have no criminal flavour or element. At the highest, these are contractual claims”.
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ET last week had reported that the order was passed by a Patiala House court judge on a complaint by a former associate of Super-Max, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of shaving products after Gillette. London-based Actis, which has $10 billion of assets under management, invested in Super-Max in March 2011.

The complainant, Subhash Chaudhuri, had moved the court alleging that the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police failed to act on his complaint in June last year. He alleged that Actis conspired to gain control over the finances, ownership and management of the Super-Max Group.

“The allegations point towards deep conspiracy which not only have ramification qua the complainant and the alleged victim companies but may lead to unearthing large-scale money-laundering activities being done by the accused persons,” the judge had said in the order. “I am satisfied that FIR is required to be registered in the present matter to unearth the truth.”

The court had directed the Economic Offences Wing to register an FIR “under appropriate sections, uninfluenced by sections and the names of accused mentioned in the complaint, and investigate.” A day after passing of the order, EOW had registered an FIR against the accused on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery among other offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A spokesperson for Actis, when contacted, had told ET "Out of the greatest respect for the judicial process it is not appropriate to comment on any legal matters. It is for the Courts to decide whether there is a case to answer".
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