A Delhi court has granted interim protection from arrest to Ford India managing director Anurag Mehrotra in a cheating case filed by a car dealership owner who alleged that the car manufacturer terminated its agreement and announced it “duplicitously” (State v. Anurag Mehrotra).
Additional Sessions Judge Raj Rani allowed Mehrotra’s plea seeking anticipatory bail.
Since the investigation in the present case is still pending, it is directed that in the event of arrest, the applicant be released on interim bail for a period of 30 days on furnishing of bail bonds in a sum of Rs 5 lakh with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of IO/SHO.
Mehrotra’s Counsel argued that he was “well-educated” and a “qualified professional” of “impeccable repute” being the managing director of Ford India.
It was submitted that the applicant has been falsely implicated in the present case by the complainant deceitfully and dishonestly alleging inter-alia the commission of the offenses of criminal breach of trust and cheating by the applicant.
The counsel further submitted that the present FIR was registered on the direction of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on November 4, 2020, despite the fact that in response to the application under 156 (3) CrPC (seeking registration of the FIR), the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police had already filed a status report in which it was stated that no offense was made out. The Court, it was argued, was supposed to proceed with the direction passed by the Delhi High Court in Dr. Rajini Parliwala V. Dr. D Mohan & Anr. He highlighted a “delay in filing the FIR” of 18 months, arguing that the punishment for the alleged offenses was less than seven years, and therefore, the applicant’s arrest was not required in view of Arnesh Kumar V. State of Bihar.
The counsel submitted that the allegations made in the FIR are civil in nature. Since the present complainant did not adhere to the terms and conditions of the agreement of dealership and also not clear their outstanding credit i.e., up to ?4 crores approximately as clear from the letter dated 18.01.2019 wherein (it is) specifically mentioned the misconduct or not following the condition of the agreement. Hence, the dealership of the complainant was terminated vide termination letter dated 05.03.2019.
On the other hand, the complainant, managing director of Libra Cars Pvt. Ltd., claimed that he had entered into an agreement with M/s Ford India Pvt. Ltd. through Mehrotra and Director David Allan Schock on April 24, 2018. According to an agreement clause, Ford India or its directors could not authorize any other service station workshop within a 10-km radius of his showroom. Due to the decreasing sales figures, the complainant learned about another service center running within the approximate radius mentioned earlier, it was submitted. The complainant was stated to have reported the matter to the company but the latter sent notices relating to outstanding dues and later terminated the dealership with effect from March 21, 2019, causing wrongful loss of ?35 crores.
Countering the allegation, Mehrotra’s Counsel submitted that post-termination of the agreement the complainant had paid ?65 lakh to Ford. He argued that had there been any clause with regard to the payment of compensation of ?35 crores in the alleged agreement dated 24.04.2018, the complainant would have never paid ?65 lakh to the Ford Company post-termination, It was also alleged that the complainant had not tendered any resignation but Ford “duplicitously” published a public notice in one of the newspapers that he resigned from the dealership, thereby deceiving not only the complainant but also the public at large. The Court was informed by the investigating officer (IO) that Ford’s director David Allan Schock, a US resident, had joined the investigation through virtual mode and Mehrotra too was participating in the investigation. Mehrotra, meanwhile, was directed to join the investigation as and when required and not intimidate or influence the prosecution witnesses. He was also directed to provide his mobile number to the IO and not change it without bringing it to the IO's notice.