Jet Airways case: HC permits Anita Goyal to travel abroad for a month to visit son
The Bombay High Court (HC) on Tuesday pulled up the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), pointing out that there was “no logical end” to their ongoing “endless investigation” which had commenced against Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and wife Anita Goyal in 2019. While the bench permitted Anita Goyal to travel abroad to Dubai, as the SFIO did not oppose it, HC kept the question of Naresh Goyal’s travel abroad pending till June.
A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Sharmila U Deshmukh was hearing Goyals’ pleas seeking return of passport and permission to travel to Dubai for a period of one month to visit their son and the family.
A full-service carrier, Jet Airways had shuttered operations on April 17, 2019, after running out of cash. In March 2019, Naresh Goyal had stepped down as chairman of the airline.
The government had ordered a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) after an inspection by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) found large-scale irregularities, including diversion of funds, at the airline.
The bench was informed by advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, appearing for SFIO, that the probe in the case has been ongoing since 2019 and was likely to conclude in September this year. The bench expressed displeasure over the investigation that has been going on for nearly four years. “Your investigation is going on since 2019. You have to take your investigation to some logical end. Somewhere, there has to be a closure in cases. You cannot go on endlessly with investigation,” Justice Dere remarked orally.
Last week, Goyal and Anita had filed interim applications in their plea challenging the Look Out Circulars (LOCs) issued by the central government. Through the application, they sought permission to travel outside India for a period of one month to meet their son in Dubai.
Venegaonkar submitted that while SFIO was opposing travel for the duo together, it was agreeable if Anita was willing to travel alone. The SFIO said that it was opposing Naresh’s travel as he had properties in foreign locations and also had a bailable warrant issued for non-complying with summons in the case. However, Naresh’s lawyer opposed the same and contended that there have been Supreme Court verdicts where travel was permitted.
The court then said it would require an at-length hearing and the same can be done in June this year. It added that as the SFIO was not opposing Anita’s travel, it would permit her to travel April 20 onwards for a month. “All LOCs against her imposed by ED, SFIO and SBI stand suspended for the month,” it said.