SC Gives Odisha Congress MLA Md Moquim A Week Reprieve In Loan Forgery Case

OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: In an interim relief for senior Congress leader and Cuttack-Barabati MLA Mohammed Moquim, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted him reprieve from surrendering in the decade-old loan irregularities case till the next hearing on April 22.

The legislator had suffered a setback a week ago after the Orissa High Court upheld the verdict of a special vigilance court that sentenced Moquim and others to three-year imprisonment in the case, scotching his prospects of contesting in the ensuing elections.

He had challenged this order in the SC, which accepted his plea and posted the next hearing for April 22.

On September 29, 2022, Moquim, the managing director of Metro Builders Pvt Ltd, former IAS officer Vinod Kumar and others were convicted by a vigilance court for obtaining pecuniary advantage in favour of the former company in guide of loans meant for rural poor from Odisha Rural Housing and Development Corporation Ltd (ORHDC).

In October 2022, following an appeal from the Congress legislator, the HC stayed his conviction, describing it as “an exceptional case” and allowed him to continue as member of the state assembly.

Moquim had challenged the propriety of the trial court’s order on the grounds that it was incurably defective and suffered from gross infirmities.

Hearing a special leave petition filed by the Vigilance, the Supreme Court on September 22, 2023, ordered the HC to dispose off the appeal within a period of 6 months from the date of order.

Dismissing the Congress MLA’s petition, the HC on April 10 said that there are sufficient evidences available on record against Moquim on his role in getting the loan sanctioned in favour of the company. “In addition to this, the loan was sanctioned on the security of the personal guarantee, indemnity and assurance of Moquim. It is further indicated from the evidences that he along with other co-accused persons have intentionally and knowingly used series of forged documents to get the loan sanctioned in favour of accused company without any justification. It is true that mere inability to repay the loan amount would not give rise to criminal prosecution. But here in the present case, fraudulent and dishonest intention of Moquim as the MD of Metro Builders has been established through prosecution evidence to show his intention to get the loan sanctioned and such conduct of Moquim from the very date of application for loan is clear on record to satisfy the existence of mens rea on his part,” the HC said in its order.

While the Cuttack-Barabati MLA as the MD of Metro Builders had availed a loan of Rs 1.5 crore in 2000, the unpaid amount in 2007 had mounted to more than Rs 6 crore.

Notably, Moquim had managed to win the Cuttack-Barabati seat by defeating BJD’s Debashish Samantaray because of his organisational strength in 2019 Assembly elections when Congress faced drubbing and could bag on only 9 of the 147 seats.

The Congress is yet to announce candidate for this seat.

OB Bureau

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