The sessions court in Gurgaon on Thursday granted bail to Nitin Mangal, the Veritas analyst who had co-authored a report against Indiabulls. Last month, a magistrate court in the city had sent him to police custody for interrogation on a complaint of extortion and criminal defamation filed by Indiabulls. He was later remanded to 14 days in judicial custody.
“The sessions court granted him bail. We will get the detailed order soon,” Mangal’s lawyer told Business Standard. He is likely to be released on Friday. Mangal, a chartered accountant, had in 2012 assisted Veritas lead analyst Neeraj Monga in preparing a report titled ‘Bilking India’ on Indiabulls group companies.
Indiabulls had filed two criminal complaints in this regard, alleging extortion and criminal defamation, in Gurgaon and Mumbai. While in the Gurgaon case the Punjab and Haryana High Court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea, the Bombay High Court had given Mangal anticipatory bail in the Mumbai one in March last year. Next few months were quiet as Mangal resumed his normal life in Indore.
The legal battle resumed in September last year, when Veritas filed a settlement claim for $11 million in Ontario, Canada, leading to an anti-suit filing in the Delhi High Court by Indiabulls. The hearing in this case is scheduled for February. Mangal, who was issued notices in the anti-suit filing, had appeared in the Delhi High Court on November 13, triggering a set of events that led to his eventual surrender before the Gurgaon Magistrate court on November 25, when he was sent for custodial interrogation.
According to Veritas, the “analysis was based entirely on a fulsome review of publicly available information” related to Indiabulls. The report ran into 24 pages and had 80 additional pages of supporting documents. It was initially released to its six clients in August 2012. Though Veritas had written scathing reports against other Indian companies earlier, the response it got from Indiabulls left it stumped.
Indiabulls soon issued a public statement slamming the ethics and practices of Veritas. “If Veritas wants to rate Indiabulls companies as ‘sell’, it is its opinion. However, if it wants to spread malicious headlines and intentionally use blatantly incorrect data without seeking any clarification from the company, to fulfil its agenda of profiteering, as demonstrated by the points above, we strongly protest and will ensure that Veritas face legal consequences.”
One of the key pieces of evidence cited in these complaints was an email, allegedly sent by Monga to Prashant Periwal, an executive at UK-based hedge fund Altima Partners. It was communicated in the email that Veritas’ research services were available for annual subscription at $50,000. He allegedly also offered to hold back a wider publication of the report by a day if Periwal decided to subscribe to the report. Veritas has argued it was a normal subscription mail, which was twisted out of context by Indiabulls.