The Delhi High Court has granted bail to journalist Upendra Rai, arrested in a money laundering case, related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions, noting that he has already spent more than 13 months in custody, and the trial is likely to take some time.
Justice Mukta Gupta granted the relief to Rai on furnishing a personal bond of Rs one lakh with a surety of like amount and directed him not to influence any witness or tamper with the evidence of the prosecution.
The court also said he shall not leave the country without prior permission.
Rai was arrested on June 8, 2018, by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at the Tihar jail here, moments after he secured bail in a Central Bureau of Investigation case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions.
The CBI had arrested him on May 3, 2018.
The Enforcement Directorate opposed his bail plea saying that merely because bail has been granted to him in the two predicate offences investigated by the CBI could not be the sole criteria to grant him the relief in the money laundering case.
A trial court had in January declined to grant him bail in the case.
The high court said since Rai has already undergone more than one year of custody, and there is no material placed on record to show that he has tampered evidence, it is a fit case of granting bail to him.
“The maximum punishment provided for the offence punishable under Section 4 PMLA seasoning years imprisonment and the petitioner has undergone more than 1 year 1 month of custody and the trial likely to take some time, there being no material placed on record to show that the petitioner has been tampering of evidence… this court finds it to be a fit case for grant of bail to the petitioner,” the judge said.
During the previous hearing, the Delhi-based scribe’s counsel had alleged in the high court that investigating agencies, CBI and ED, were “playing with the liberty” of his client.
The lawyer had said that the “vindictive approach” of the agencies was evident from the fact that he was being kept in custody even though his further interrogation was not required.
Rai was arrested by the CBI for allegedly indulging in dubious financial transactions, getting an airport access pass made by the Bureau of Civil Aviation
Security (BCAS) by furnishing false information, alleged extortion and manipulation of an Income Tax Department case against a Mumbai-based businessman.
He has denied all the allegations levelled against him.