Sonia Dhawan has finally been granted bail, almost five months after the former senior Paytm executive and the long time secretary of founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma was imprisoned in October on allegations of being part of an extortion bid against Sharma.
The bail, granted by Allahabad High Court, comes just a month after an earlier bail plea of hers was rejected by the Surajpur District Court last month. Her husband Rupak Jain, who is also accused in the case, was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court.
Her lawyer had then decided to move the Allahabad High Court which accepted her bail application on March 5. Earlier in November, the Surajpur District and Sessions Court had rejected the bail application of Roopak Jain.
Inc42 was not able to immediately reach Paytm or representatives of Sonia Dhawan.
“Applicant while claiming innocence has laid stress on fact that there is nothing concrete emerging against the applicant and it cannot be said that the applicant ever indulged in any illegal activity secretly obtaining any data from the laptop of any device of the informant or his company and she never blackmailed as such. There is no active role assigned to the applicant. Suppositional charges have been levelled, which allegations cannot stand concrete,” read the order copy accessed by Inc42.
“Learned AGA has opposed prayer for bail. However, he has not disputed the aforesaid facts. Without entering into the merit of the case but considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the nature of the accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence, reasonable apprehension of tampering with witness or apprehension of threat to the complainant and prima facie satisfaction of the court in support of the charge, the applicant is entitled to be released on bail,” it added.
A Murky Story
On October 22, 2018, Ajay Shekhar Sharma, senior vice president-Paytm had lodged a complaint against four people — Sonia Dhawan, her husband Roopak Jain, another Paytm admin staff Devendra Kumar and his friend Rohit Chomal — accusing that the four allegedly stole personal data of his brother and Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma and demanded an extortion amount of INR 10 Cr.
Earlier, speaking to Inc42, the police, however, claimed that Devendra Kumar — one of the accused — has already accepted the crime and has narrated the entire case of how Dhawan master-planned the extortion.
The police have already recovered the data that Devendra Kumar obtained from Dhawan, allegedly with the knowledge of her husband, confirming there was “criminal data-theft of a severe nature.
Interestingly, Manoj Pant, the Station House Officer (SHO), Sector 20, Noida — the lead investing officer in this case — is now behind the bars. Pant was caught red-handed last week, accepting a bribe of INR 8 Lakh from an accused and promising him to remove his name from the FIR.