Sterling Biotech case reassigned to same judge who recused earlier, Health News, ET HealthWorld

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Sterling Biotech case reassigned to same judge who recused earlierNew Delhi: A Rs 8,100-crore bank loan fraud case against the owners of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech group and others was on Tueday reassigned here to the same judge who a day earlier recused himself from hearing the matter, saying he was approached by one of the parties in the case. District Judge of Patiala House Courts complex sent back the case to Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana after the counsel for both the parties –the Enforcement Directorate(ED) and the accused–agreed to the same.

ASJ Rana on Monday had recused himself from hearing the matter, saying he was “shocked” as he was approached by one of his classmates on behalf of the accused, while terming the incident as “unfortunate”.

“I don’t feel like pursuing the matter. It’s very embarrassing and I am recusing and posting the matter before District Judge. It’s very unfortunate that after hearing the full matter I have to recuse…,” the ASJ said while recusing himself. The judge was scheduled to pass an order on an application filed by ED, seeking to declare the owners of the company as fugitive economic offenders under a new law.

The ED had approached the court seeking to declare Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, DiSandesara and Hitesh Patel fugitives under Section 4 of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

According to the ED, all four are promoters of the Sterling Group and allegedly fled the country to avoid criminal probe against them in a Rs 8,100-crore bank loan fraud involving a consortium of banks.

Advocate Zoheb Hussain, who is one of the counsels for the ED, meanwhile, said a remark to this effect has been wrongly attributed to him in a media report on Monday’s court proceedings on the recusal matter. Hussain clarified that no statement in respect of this case has been made by him.

A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

Arrest warrants were issued by a court against the four earlier under the anti-money laundering law.

The agency had filed a charge sheet in this case, under the PMLA, charging the Sandesaras and others with money laundering and siphoning bank loans.

The ED alleged that the pharmaceutical group and its promoters laundered funds obtained through bank loans by “incorporating” shell or dummy companies, conducting circular transactions to artificially inflate turnover of flagship companies, claiming higher depreciations on non-existing machinery, artificial share trading with the use of shell companies and layering and laundering of proceeds of crime within India and abroad through the web of shell companies.

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