The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a notice on AAP leader Satyendar Jain’s bail plea in a money laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A single-judge bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma asked the ED to “positively file” a reply within two weeks after it was argued by Jain’s counsel that there was an urgency in the matter as the AAP leader had been in jail since May 30. The matter is listed for December 20.
Appearing for Jain, senior advocate N Hariharan drew the court’s attention to the events that led to the filing of the regular bail plea. He argued that there were no proceeds of crime generated and that the trial court had made out an entirely new case in the impugned order.
“I want to draw the court’s attention to a few dates to begin with. On August 24, 2017 the CBI registered a case alleging predicate offence committed (by Jain) under Section 13(2) and Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act along with provisions of the IPC. The chargesheet has now been filed. The check period was between February 14,2015 and May 31, 2017. This will assume great relevance…Everything has to essentially derive from this. On August 31, 2017 an ECIR (ED’s case) is filed in pursuance of this predicate offence. December 3, 2018: Chargesheet for the predicate offence was filed. On July 6, 2019, I’m granted regular bail on being summoned by the CBI judge. I appeared before the ED on seven occasions…as many dates I was called I have appeared. I’m arrested five years after ECIR was filed on May 30 and remanded to police custody,” Hariharan said.
It was submitted that Jain moved the first bail application on June 18 in the ED case, which was rejected by the trial court. Hariharan argued that the court had, however, noted that Jain was not a flight risk. He said the bail plea was rejected on the ground that witnesses could be influenced if Jain was granted bail.
It was submitted that Jain’s second bail plea was filed on July 27, after the chargesheet was filed and the investigation was completed.
The court was informed that the agency moved an application in September before the district judge for the transfer of the case from one special judge to another, alleging bias. The district judge on September 22 transferred the matter and it was heard afresh. On November 17, Jain’s bail plea was dismissed by special judge Vikas Dhull.
“My endeavour will be to show that there are no proceeds of crime generated.In fact, as far as the predicate offence is concerned, no predicate offence is committed. It is all based on a notional basis. And for that I will take you through the papers relied upon by the ED itself. An absolutely new case has been set up by the trial court,” Hariharan argued.
It was also argued that if no predicate offence is committed, then as per the observations of the Supreme Court in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary v Union of India, the offence of proceeds of crime under PMLA will not stand.
After Zoheb Hossain, appearing for the ED, submitted that he would require some time to file a response to Jain’s plea, Hariharan requested that the matter be listed next week, citing the period that Jain has been in jail.
“Grounds taken by them are triple-ended,” Hossain argued, to which Hariharan said, “I have been in custody for a very long time. I’m supported by the Supreme Court judgments on this…Bail application should be decided within a limited period.”
The CBI filed a case in August 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act and a year later filed a chargesheet against Jain, his wife, and four of his associates in the disproportionate assets case. The ED later provisionally attached immovable properties worth Rs 4.81 crore belonging to Akinchan Developers Pvt Ltd, Indo Metal Impex Pvt Ltd, Paryas Infosolutions Pvt Ltd, Manglayatan Projects Pvt Ltd, and JJ Ideal Estate Pvt Ltd.
The trial court rejected Jain’s bail plea observing that it “has prima facie come on record that Jain was actually involved in concealing proceeds of crime by giving cash to Kolkata-based entry operators, and bringing the cash into three companies”.
“By this process, the proceeds of crime to the tune of 1/3rd of Rs 4.61 crore has been laundered. Apart from that, Satyendar Kumar Jain has also used the same modus operandi to convert his proceeds of crime of Rs 15,00,000 by receiving accommodation entries from Kolkata-based entry operators… The applicant/accused had knowingly done such activity to obliterate the tracing of the source of ill-gotten money and, accordingly, the proceeds of crime was layered through Kolkata- based entry operators in a way that its source was difficult to decipher,” the court said.
The court said Jain “has prima facie indulged in the offence of money laundering of more than Rs 1 crore”. The court had also denied bail to two other accused persons, Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain.