Thursday, December 6, 2018

Return victims’ money from scamster’s bank accounts: Court

100 People Duped Of ₹17L

In a first, a court in Ahmedabad ordered the concerned government official to distribute among victims money seized from scamsters under a law that protects depositors’ interests – the Gujarat Protection of Interest of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act.
Principal district judge A C Joshi ordered the sub-divisional magistrate, who is the competent authority for distribution of seized money among the victims, to prepare and submit a list of depositors among whom the money is to be disbursed. The court said it ordered so “in the greater interest of justice” and permitted the government to take out nearly Rs 10 lakh from the alleged scamster’s bank account and pay it to some 100 victims.
The alleged scam involved Hemant Goswami and Mukesh Sharma, who registered Limelite Promotions Pvt Ltd and floated scheme that as part of government’s Beti Bachao Abhiyan and Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan, people could buy scooters at a discounted rate of Rs 38,000. They collected nearly Rs 17 lakh from some 100 persons. When the scam was busted, CID (crime) began investigations in this case. Under the GPID Act, the deputy collector also prepared a report, being the competent authority, to return the amount accumulated through fraud to the victims. CID (crime) requested the court to permit it to attach Goswami’s bank accounts and allow the deputy collector to distribute the money in these accounts among 100-odd depositors. There was Rs 10,24,367 in one account and Rs 9,323 in the other account. More than Rs 5 lakh was spent on administrative expenses of the company. Hence, police demanded permission for repayment of a little over Rs 10 lakh among depositors.
The accused opposed this demand, saying that police have not even filed a chargesheet against them. None of their customers requested CID (crime) to return the money. In the absence of any grievance, the investigators cannot make such demands.
For the state government, district government pleader Praveen Trivedi argued that under provisions of sections 9 and 10 of the GPID Act, the purpose behind attachment is nothing but to return the money to duped customers or depositors. The law empowers the deputy collector to make payments to depositors out of money realised after assessing the liability towards depositors. In case the among realized from the property of the scamster is not sufficient to meet with the entire liability, the authority can make payments on a court’s order. The court is also empowered to pass such an order on the basis of a request by the authority. Principal judge Joshi upheld the prosecution’s arguments and directed the deputy collector to prepare a list of the company’s customers to whom the money is to be returned. This list will be prepared in two months.

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