Loan default case: HC refuses nod to ex-chairman of Mantri Realty to go to Nepal; takes note of risk of not returning


PTI, Jun 2, 2022, 1:28 PM IST

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has refused permission to Sunil Mantri, former chairman of Mantri Realty Ltd who is accused in loan default cases, to travel to Nepal to attend the wedding of his friend’s daughter, noting that if he is allowed to leave the country then there would be no hope for the creditors.

Mantri, who is accused of defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 300 crore, sought permission to travel to Nepal from June 2 to 8. Mantri’s firms are under liquidation after he failed to return the Rs 300 crore to the creditors. A vacation bench of Justice Abhay Ahuja in an order passed on Wednesday, a copy of which was made available on Thursday, said perusal of the earlier orders passed by courts in the matter highlights the ”dishonest, recalcitrant, non-cooperative and contemptuous conduct of the applicant”.

Justice Ahuja noted that a perusal of the earlier orders ”clearly indicates that if permitted to leave the country, there would be no hope for the creditors” and that from the orders, it emerges that Mantri was the ”kingpin in the case”.

”Permitting a person with recalcitrant conduct to leave the country would be too risky. This in my view would be detrimental to the interests of the creditors and flat purchasers waiting for justice for so many years,” Justice Ahuja said.

The HC in its order further noted that applicant Mantri’s conduct was ”dishonest and abusive” of the orders of this court and that his previous conduct does not inspire confidence to let the applicant leave the country.

”It is hard to digest that after having duped several creditors/ flat purchasers, the applicant is desirous of traveling to Nepal for a wedding of the daughter of a purported friend. Had the requested travel been for the purposes of raising funds to repay the creditors/ innocent flat purchasers then that would have been another matter,” the court said.

Mantri’s counsel Abad Ponda has argued that even though a passport was not required to travel to Nepal, the applicant out of respect to the court and to prove his credibility has sought permission. The HC had in January 2016 restrained Mantri and three directors of the company from leaving the country.

Ponda argued that Mantri has the fundamental right to travel and that he has not absconded in the past six years and would not do the same now.

Advocate Prathamesh Kamat, appearing for the Official Liquidator, opposed the plea and said that the conduct of Mantri was despicable and that he has been an obstacle in the entire liquidation process that commenced in 2016.

The presence of Mantri is required for trial in the several cases lodged against him and there is an apprehension that he may abscond and it would be difficult to find him if he is permitted to travel to Nepal, Kamat said.

Justice Ahuja in the order noted that several petitions and claims have been filed by creditors and flat purchasers for claims against Mantri and his colleagues that run into crores of rupees.

”The applicant appears neither to have co-operated in the liquidation process nor made any payments to the creditors/flat purchasers,” the court said while dismissing Mantri’s petition.

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