Rashesh Shah and RK Bansal, both associated with the Edelweiss Group, have submitted a plea to the Bombay High Court seeking the dismissal of the First Information Report (FIR) lodged against them on charges of alleged "abetment" in the suicide of art director Nitin Desai.
Rashesh Shah, Chairman of Edelweiss Financial Services, and Raj Kumar Bansal, the MD and CEO of Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Limited, have approached the Bombay High Court seeking to have the FIR filed against them for allegedly abetting the suicide of art director Nitin Desai quashed. While awaiting the hearing of their plea, they have also requested interim relief in the form of ‘no coercive action’ and a stay on the investigation until the hearing.
Nitin Desai, a national award-winning art director, was found deceased in his studio on August 2. An audio note left by him purportedly blamed Bansal, Shah, and three others for his dire financial situation, according to the police. Following this, Desai’s wife Neha filed a complaint with the Raigad police in Maharashtra, leading to an FIR being registered at Khalapur police station on August 4 against the five individuals under sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
ECL Finance, a non-banking finance arm of the Edelweiss Group, had lent Rs 181 crore to Desai’s firm ND’s Art World between 2016 and 2018. The police issued a notice to the managing director of ECL Finance, requesting information about the loans extended to Nitin Desai.
Shah and Bansal, in their pleas filed on August 7, asserted that their actions were in line with the official and legal recovery process. They argued that the FIR against them was unwarranted and that there was no involvement in abetment to suicide. Their senior advocate, Amit Desai, brought their pleas before a bench led by Justice Nitin W Sambre, seeking an urgent hearing on Tuesday. However, the Justice Sambre-led bench was unavailable for judicial work on that day. The petitioners are expected to present their pleas before an alternate bench.
On July 25, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) initiated the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) against ND’s Art World Private Limited due to an outstanding debt of Rs 252.48 crore. The NCLT appointed Jitender Kothari as the interim resolution professional for the case. On August 1, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) dismissed Desai’s appeal against the NCLT order, allowing insolvency proceedings against his firm to proceed.
In response to these events, Edelweiss released a stock exchange filing stating that there had been no wrongdoing. The company explained that Nitin Desai, as the promoter of NDAWPL, obtained loans for the theme park’s capital expenditure and repayment of existing debt. The company maintained that NDAWPL encountered financial difficulties in 2019 and subsequently defaulted.