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Delhi HC suspends bank look out circular against businessman, allows travel abroad

New Delhi: The Delhi High court has allowed a Dubai-based businessman, Manan Goel, whose company was accused of fraud to the tune of Rs 300 Crores, to travel abroad and suspended the Look Out Circular (LOC) issued by Bank of Baroda against him.
While travelling to London, the businessman was apprehended at Delhi airport in October 2021, on the basis of LOC issued by the Bank of Baroda. Following the incident, Goel knocked on the door of the Delhi High court and challenged the LOC against him. He, recently, approached the High court seeking permission to travel abroad to the United Kindom for a period of approximately two months.
After considering the submission made by both parties, a bench of Justice Yashwant Verma in an order passed last week said, "I am inclined to suspend the LOC for a short period and consequently grant permission to the petitioner to travel to the UK till November 30, 2022."
"Having considered the submissions of the counsel for the parties and perused the record, I find that it is an admitted position that till date there is no FIR against the petitioner in respect of the purported dues of the company. It is also not denied that there is no allegation against the petitioner of his not cooperating with the investigation," the Court said.
The bench while suspending the LOC issued against the businessman imposed the condition that the petitioner shall furnish security for a sum of Rs 5 crores to the satisfaction of the Registrar General of the Court.
The Counsel appearing for the Bank of Baroda vehemently opposed the application and submitted that the Petitioner's Company account has been declared a fraud by the Bank and the amount of fraud committed is more than Rs 300 Crores and objected to the request for suspension of the LOC.
Advocate Rhythm Aggarwal and Advocate Talib Khan appearing for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner has challenged the Office Memorandum issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs which empowers banks to issue the lookout circulars.
Advocate Rhythm Aggarwal argued that the circular had granted the Banks the powers to issue Look Out Circulars, which can only be issued by an Investigating Agency and granting the said rights to a bank is arbitrary and is being misused by them. Moreover, the LOC is issued against her client based on a loan in UAE for which LOC is arbitrarily opened in India.
Advocate Aggarwal submitted that the said issuance of LOC by the Bank is in complete violation of the principle of Audi Alterem Partem, i.e. the right of the party to get a fair hearing. In fact, such empowerment takes away the basic right of the other party i.e. "to be informed".
She further argued that the case of her client is one such case wherein he was neither informed nor heard before the issuance of the LOC against him.
Lawyers further contended that the LOC has been issued by the Bank due to some defaults in repayment of loan amounts, owing to the precarious economic conditions being faced by most companies in the last few years on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and thus no LOC could have been issued against their client and the issuance of such LOC in these circumstances would seriously prejudice client's right to carry on his business, for which he has to travel abroad regularly. (ANI)

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