‘Rishabh Pant Trusted Mrinank Singh’

An under-19 cricketer who failed to find success on the pitch found his calling as a con man by deceiving people under the pretense of being an IPL player, and even once an Indian player. Mrinak Singh’s name wouldn’t have rung a month ago, and despite the former cricketer being jailed in Mumbai in connection with another deception case, there weren’t many of interest around this failed cricketer. Not before news broke that India international and Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant was one of Mrinank’s casualties.

The defendant had offered Pant to buy him expensive watches and cell phones at a cheaper rate. However, the cricketer was duped for Rs 1.63 crore through an NSF cheque. To understand the whole affair, News18 Cricketnext had an exclusive chat with Pant’s lawyer, Eklavya Dwivedi. The cricketer-turned-lawyer outlined the timeline of events.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

How and when did this whole episode, between Rishabh Pant and Mrinank Singh, start?

These two (Rishabh Pant and Mrinank Singh) have a long history, although they are not close, but they have known each other for some time. They met around 2013-2014 in a domestic camp because I was told the defendant used to play cricket at a junior level or something. And he often used that identity to scam people and rip them off.

They met in 2013-2014 and then there was a long gap after which Rishabh was approached by Mr. Mrinank Singh in 2020 or 2021 saying he had started a new business in luxury items and that he could get the same thing at a very cheap price. He can even sell any of Rishabh’s luxury goods and get Rishabh a high profit for the same price.

So that’s how it all started and you know, Rishabh is a cricketer and has a thing for people he knows. He trusted her and didn’t examine her too closely. So, he thought the deal will go ahead and he will get something from Mrinank.

Rishabh placed this order and disbursed funds from his bank account. He also gave Mrinank some items to sell. After which the defendant was unable to deliver any of these goods to my client.

After that, Rishabh and his manager persisted. They kept calling and texting Mrinank, trying to make sure the delivery happened. But the latter continued to find excuses and delivered no goods.

Subsequently, there was a mutual oral settlement which they reached. On this oral settlement, Mr Mrinank Singh issued a check in favor of Rishabh for Rs 1.63 cr, which eventually bounced.

From the bank, total remittances were around Rs 1.3 cr and some jewelry and watches were remitted (for sale) for around Rs 60 lakhs.

How did you proceed in this case?

In the latest listing of the case, Mrinank Singh’s lawyer told the magistrate that this guy is behind bars and there are reports that he defrauded a businessman in Mumbai and was arrested by the police there. Although at this stage there was nothing we could have done as he was not present and the magistrate ordered that if he is in jail he should be connected from there himself at the next hearing .

But surprisingly, Rishabh’s manager received calls from Mr. Mrinank Singh in between all of this. That seems to indicate he’s not in jail or might be out on bail or something. And it’s difficult to get the record of those trial court orders online, especially if it’s in a different jurisdiction.

So, I couldn’t pull the same out and I don’t know if he’s behind bars or out on bail.

We filed a complaint under Section 138 of the Commercial Paper Act, for refusal to honor the check and followed due process. After that, summonses were issued. A few hearings have taken place and we have also filed a request for provisional compensation under article 143 A which allows the magistrate to award us 20% of the amount that has been issued.

In the meantime, while the hearing is still ongoing, we filed the application only to protect our interests. This motion is pending and, of course, 138 is in progress and it is at the stage of recording the statement of the accused. Since he was not present at the last hearing, the magistrate issued an order to do so virtually, if he is in jail or if he is released, he must be present in court on the date of the hearing which is July 19. 2022.

If he is found guilty, what will Mrinank see in terms of punishment?

At the beginning, during the drafting of the notice of indictment, the defendant was asked by the Magistrate if he pleaded guilty or not guilty. At this point, he has already pleaded not guilty. But later, in his statement of objection and denial, he accepted all the evidence that was recorded. So it’s a reckless thing for him to do. In the end, he admitted to everything we said, including the dishonored check.

It’s under CRPC now. The penalty that can be imposed is 2 years imprisonment and double the amount of the fine.

All of these factors – the money that was handed over, the kind of promises that were made, the check that was bounced, its history; now the bench is aware that he is a repeat offender and has defrauded other people as well. All these elements will be taken into account when the magistrate pronounces the sentence.

Anyone else from the cricketing fraternity who was duped by Mrinank?

I have no idea about this. Second, I won’t be allowed to comment because no one has approached me. It would be a bit arbitrary if I said anything about it.

Are you aware of any other case involving Mrinank Singh?

Incidentally, I also received an email after the recent reports that came out. Someone (name withheld) from Dubai contacted me. Now imagine the reach of this person and the number of people scammed.

He is a hotel manager in Dubai, who contacted me via email and sent me some details. But there are serious charges involved in this. He scammed this hotel for around Rs 5-6 lakhs. He claimed there that he was a Mumbai Indians player and part of the Indian team. He made his reservations and later left in the middle of the night, exploiting all the food, drink and other hotel amenities.

Eklavya added: “I didn’t share this with anyone. I’m still wondering how to go about it because it’s a different jurisdiction.

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Jon J. Epps