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justiceThe Bombay High Court has directed police to unseal and release two offices in a building in the Fort area of south Mumbai to Velhari Trading Company Pvt Ltd and M/s Auto Investment.

The two firms were the tenants of Sangli Bank, now merged with the ICICI Bank.

The division bench headed by Justice P V Hardas recently set aside an order of Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Court, dated March 19, 2004, which had rejected the applications filed by the two firms seeking release of the properties.

The High Court noted that the probe by the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai police was now over and these two firms had not been found to be involved in any crime.

EOW had registered a case in 2003 on the complaint of Rakesh Agarwal against M/s Roofit Industries Ltd and its directors, who operated from the same premises.

During the probe, the offices of Velhari Trading and Auto Investment were sealed. The two firms approached the MPID court, but it rejected their applications for release of the premises in 2004 because the EOW probe was still in progress.

The two firms then moved the HC. The High Court noted that investigation was over by November 2004, and a chargesheet had been filed. Further, EOW, in its affidavit in February this year, said that these firms – tenants in the building – had no role in the crime, and they had given the two premises to the accused, Roofit Industries, purely on ex-gratis (as a favour) basis.

During the hearing, ICICI bankBSE -0.45 %, which was made party to the case, contended that the two office premises should be handed over to it.

But the High Court upheld the argument of the appellant firms that they were the lawful tenants of Sangli Bank. If the premises were to be returned to ICIC Bank, the tenants would be dispossessed without following the due process of law.

(Source: PTI)

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