The Delhi High Court Thursday granted interim protection from arrest to the trustees of Hemkunt Foundation in connection with an FIR for cheating and criminal breach of trust pertaining to the alleged misuse of donations collected during Covid-19 relief work.
A single judge bench of Justice Jasmeet Singh was hearing a plea moved by the trust seeking the quashing of the FIR under various provisions of the IPC including sections 405 (criminal breach of trust) and 415 (cheating) registered by the Delhi Police Special Cell and, in the interim, relief seeking no coercive action by police against the trustees.
The counsel for the petitioner trust argued that for offences levelled against the trust, “there has to be a person who is injured” and in this case, there is no complainant who has come forward. “No ingredients of entrustment or cheating are made out as per allegations in the FIR,” the counsel submitted.
The Additional Public Prosecutor, appearing for the Delhi Police-respondent, submitted that an FIR has been registered against the petitioner based on a “complaint received by a public servant who is a responsible officer of the ED and, hence, the allegation that there is no complainant is not well founded”.
He submitted that during police enquiry, it was found that huge amounts of donation were taken for Covid-19 relief by the petitioner and were diverted to another company. The respondent conducted the investigation and found that the “donations collected have not been utilised as per the objectives of the petitioner trust”.
The counsel for the petitioner stated that in the present case, there is neither a victim nor injured person to make a complaint and put the law into motion for the alleged offence. He further submitted that in the present case, there is no profit in respect of which criminal breach of trust can be committed belonging to some other person other than the accused and there is no person who has come forward or made a complaint with police to trigger the FIR.
The court recorded the petitioner’s submission which read, “For the offence of cheating, there has to be wrongful loss or wrongful gain and no person has come forward to claim that wrongful loss has been caused to him on accounts of action of the petitioner.”
The counsel for the petitioner also drew the court’s attention to the sale document wherein the petitioner had purchased the built-up dispensary site for the purpose of running a no profit no loss hospital. The petitioner’s counsel stated that the Enforcement Directorate attached the property under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which was to be used for the purpose of constructing and running a hospital.
On the prayer for interim relief, the court was prima facie of the view that for the purpose of the FIR, no person has come forward to state that the petitioner has committed offences under IPC sections 405 and 415.
“There is no person who has stated that they had entrusted their funds to the petitioner,” the court observed. Even though the prayer with respect to interim relief was not to take any coercive action on the basis of FIR, the court directed that for the time being, “none of the trustees of the petitioner trust shall be arrested” till the next date of hearing. Issuing notice, the court directed the Delhi Police to file a status report and listed the matter on January 17.