The Supreme Court, on Thursday, set aside the Bombay High Court judgment wherein the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) was directed to de-freeze the accounts of businessman Avinash Bhute of Tajshree Group in connection with the infamous Wasankar Wealth Scam that rocked the city and affected numerous investors across State.
Mr. Prashant Wasankar, the alleged mastermind of the scam, has been accused of duping thousands of depositors by promising returns much higher than banks through various schemes floated by his firm Wasankar Wealth Management Limited (WWML). Mr. Bhute’s accounts were frozen after the promoter of Tajshree Group was arrayed as an accused in the scam.
The Bombay High Court had, however, observed that the provisions of the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Act, 1999 were not adhered to by the investigating agency while freezing Mr. Bhute’s accounts. While allowing the application, the Court had granted liberty to the Investigating Officer to follow the procedure prescribed in law for attaching Mr. Bhute’s properties.
The State had now challenged this order, bringing to the notice of the Court that a similar relief was sought by Mr. Bhute from a Division Bench at an earlier time and the application was later withdrawn. It had, therefore, urged that seeking a similar relief from a single Judge amounted to a “manifest abuse of the process”.
The Bench comprising Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agreed with this contention, and observed, “The learned Single Judge was evidently not apprised of the fact that the earlier application seeking virtually the same relief had not been pressed before the division bench and had been withdrawn. Consequently, we find merit in the submission urged on behalf of the State of Maharashtra. The learned single Judge ought not to have entertained the application under Section 482 in respect of the same relief which had been given up earlier before the Division Bench of the High Court on 29 June 2016.”