A court here struck down grave sections of forgery and criminal conspiracy imposed by the Ghaziabad police on Ringing Bells MD Mohit Goel, while maintaining the charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust as it extended his judicial custody by 14 days.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM), IIIrd, Lokesh Kumar observed that the sections pertaining to forgery are not tenable as police are failed to present any evidence of any forgery committed by the accused in the case diary.

Acting on the complaint of the company’s clearing and forwarding agent Akshhay Malhotra, police registered an FIR against Goel and four other directors on February 22 under sections 467 (forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 120b (criminal conspiracy).

Arrested on Thursday night, Goel was produced before remand magistrate Abhimanyu Singh, who sought to know evidence with police for applying sections 467, 468, 471 and 120 (b) of IPC applicable for forgery and adjourned the hearing to be heard by the regular court on Saturday.

Maintaining the remand magistrate’s order, Lokesh Kumar struck down sections 467, 468, 471 and 120(b) of IPC and extended the judicial custody of the MD for 14 days while rejecting the bail request.

The order came after defence lawyer D.M. Bhalla argued that police have fabricated the case while the contents of the FIR are of civil nature.

He argued that the company is operational and most importantly on January 3, Malhotra and the manufacturer went in to an agreement to settle the dispute, which has been hide deliberately in the FIR.

Bhalla argued that the accused is innocent and has been framed under wrong sections of the IPC, since it is a matter of civil nature for delaying payment or supplying substandard product and sought bail on these grounds. But the court rejected his plea.

According to Malhotra, one of the distributors of Ayam Enterprises, Goel contacted him two years ago to become the clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent for his products.

Malhotra paid Rs 30 lakh to Goel in four instalments but Goel did not supply the consignment even after the promised delivery time lapsed.

After much persuasion, Goel supplied the first consignment of mobile phones, called ‘Freedom 251’, worth Rs 8 lakh. After finding them substandard in quality, Ayam Enterprises returned them to Ringing Bells.

Ayam Enterprises was later forced to accept power banks and LFD bulbs from Goel in place of mobile phones, Malhotra claimed.

After registering the FIR under sections 420, 406, 467, 468, 471 and 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code, police arrested Goel from his residence at ATS Towers at Indirapuram on Thursday.

After announcing that it had delivered 5,000 ‘Freedom 251′ smartphones, costing Rs 250 in India, to customers in July last year, Ringing Bells said it would deliver 65,000 more to those who had booked the device in cash on delivery mode.

After that, no new numbers were shared. The company has since forayed into making TVs and other smartphones, burying the Freedom 251 dream.

The company in mid-February last year had planned to deliver 2.5 million handsets before June 30. Ringing Bells received mammoth — over 70 million — registrations before its payment gateway crashed.

The world’s cheapest phone made a splash across the globe, with almost every big media house writing about the “miracle device”.

Doubts were initially raised over Ringing Bells’ handset after some experts said no smartphone could be manufactured for less than Rs 2,000.

First Published | 25 February 2017 11:12 PM
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