The Enforcement Directorate Thursday told a Delhi court that the money laundering case against AAP minister Satyendar Jain should be transferred from a special court since the judge did not consider that “he (Jain) can manage hospitals and jails as he held those portfolios when he was a minister”.
This was met with strong opposition by Jain’s lawyers, who questioned where the country was headed if the agency could not trust its doctors and judges.
The ED represented by Additional Solicitor General SV Raju made these arguments before Principal District and Sessions Judge Vinay Kumar Gupta, who is yet to pronounce the order on the transfer petition, lawyers said. DSJ Gupta had, during the start of the hearing, suggested that the case be transferred to a new court with specific directions that the bail hearing be heard in 15 days. However, this suggestion was rejected by Jain’s lawyers. Following this, ASG Raju apprised the court that Jain had earlier applied for medical bail and was admitted to LNJP hospital. He said that the agency had objected to any medical reports from the hospital considering that he was the minister of health, and “the hospital was under his control and things can be managed”.
Raju told the court that Special Judge Geetanjli Goel “calls for the report of the very hospital which we had an objection for”. The ASG argued that the judge did not even say that “our apprehension is wrong” and instead called for the report even as “we were shouting that the reports are going to be fudged”. Raju argued that Jain was the minister of jails, and jail doctors could be managed. He said though the ED case was that Jain was feigning sickness, the judge “doesn’t say a whisper about it”.
“When we say that he (Jain) was a jail minister, the judge did not consider anything. The jail staff and superintendent were under him… Look at the conduct of the judge. I need not use any adjective for it. But I demonstrated from the record of the case,” Raju submitted.
Raju argued that even a common man would know that if a minister heading a hospital is admitted, there will be an element of bias on how he will be examined: “In my career of over 42 years, I have never come across a situation that a certificate is granted to accused… when he is to be produced to court, he gets a certificate that because of jerky movement, he shouldn’t go. The judge considers it, endorses it.”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared on behalf of Jain, rebutted that Jain moved a regular bail application before the Special Judge on August 17, having been denied the same in June.
Sibal argued that the ED application was a malafide plea. He said no apprehension was put forth by the agency before September 15 when the matter was in its final stages. “Orally you’re attributing something to the judge. And the judge is entitled to say you haven’t answered the question. Is the judge supposed to be a silent spectator? How is this a relevant fact? Judge also agreed when issues were controverted during submissions. Is this a ground for transfer?” Sibal argued.
He added, “All this happened much prior. What is the bias that the judge may grant regular bail? Because the judge didn’t allow the accused to be shifted to AIIMS or Safdarjung? This is a malafide application, to derail the trial, to prolong my custody, to ensure that their whims and fancies are agreed to, and sends a message to the judiciary that if you don’t agree to us, this is what will happen.” Sibal said merely because the hospital where he was admitted was under the administrative control of Delhi government is no ground to allege bias. “As if the doctor will violate the oath of office. If a union minister goes to AIIMS… can someone say that I was a minister, there is a bias? What kind of argument is this?” Sibal argued.