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Defunct East West Airlines director gets bail in fraud case

THE BOMBAY High Court recently granted interim bail to Faizal Wahid, director of defunct East West Airlines, who was convicted by a special CBI court last month on various charges, including cheating the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) of Rs 1.73 crore in 1996 in lieu of false representations of demand drafts as payment for providing aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

The CBI special court on December 20, 2022, directed six-month imprisonment for Wahid. However, the sentence was suspended after he submitted that he wanted to file an appeal against the same.

The HC directed Wahid to be released on bail pending a hearing and final disposal of his criminal appeal challenging the special CBI court order.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal on January 20 heard Wahid’s interim application in his appeal argued through advocates Ayush Pasbola and Siddharth Mehta. The appellant informed the court that he was convicted by a special judge with a substantive sentence of six-month imprisonment and a fine.

The special court had acquitted two others facing trial. Four others, including East West Airline’s then deputy managing director, died during the pendency of the case.

The court had convicted East West Airlines on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating and directed the company to pay a fine of Rs 50,000. It had found its director Wahid guilty under charges, including criminal conspiracy and cheating and directed payment of Rs 6.5 lakh in fine.

According to CBI, Wahid was one of the directors of M/s East West Travel and Trade Link Pvt Ltd, now a defunct airline, and in 1995 an arrangement for payment of fuel was decided between IOCL and the airlines. However, the demand drafts were not sent to IOCL, and they were cancelled amounting to cheating of Rs 1.73 crore.

Wahid claimed that he was roped in the case only because of vicarious liability and he has not played any role.

Justice Kotwal, after perusing submissions, noted that the arguments raised by the appellant on the merits of the case can be decided at the final hearing of his appeal and noted he had already deposited the fine amount of Rs 6.5 lakh.

“The applicant was on bail during trial and he has not misused that liberty. Even after his conviction, he was granted bail under Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) The sentence is short. The Appeal is not likely to be decided within that short period. Considering all these factors, the applicant can be granted bail pending the final disposal of his appeal,” the HC said.


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