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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Money laundering case: Delhi HC grants bail to freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma

Justice Mukta Gupta, while pronouncing the order Friday, said the petitioner has been granted bail. A copy of the order was not immediately available.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 8, 2022 1:28:14 am
Rajeev Sharma, Rajeev Sharma espionage, Rajeev sharma bail plea, delhi journalist bail plea, Rajeev Sharma arrested, Rajeev Sharma China, Rajeev Sharm bail, Indian ExpressFreelance journalist Rajeev Sharma in New Delhi (Photo: PTI)

The Delhi High Court Friday granted bail to freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma in connection with a money laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last year. In December 2020, Sharma was granted default bail by the court in the Delhi Police FIR accusing him of espionage.

Justice Mukta Gupta said Sharma is an Indian citizen with roots in society. His wife also is an Indian Citizen who is employed by JNU, noted the court further. “There is no allegation against the petitioner that after being released on default bail in FIR No. 230/2020 registered at Special Cell on 4th December 2020 till 1st July 2021, the petitioner either tampered with evidence or influenced any witness. The petitioner joined the investigation as and when directed prior to 1st July 2021 before arrest,” said Justice Gupta.

Sharma was initially arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020 and accused of having links with Chinese intelligence officers and receiving funds from foreign handlers for allegedly conveying to them sensitive information pertaining to national security and foreign relations.

He was booked under the Official Secrets Act. On the basis of the Delhi Police case, the ED registered a case against him in February 2021 and arrested him in July 2021.

The ED has alleged that Sharma worked with various media agencies across the globe but in the case of South Asian Monitor, received all the money in cash through a shell company run by Chinese nationals on the instance of Chinese intelligence officers.

The central agency also alleged that some of the foreign trips made by the accused and his wife were financed by Chinese people. Sharma and other persons in the case are accused by the ED of laundering around Rs 48.2 lakh.

Alleging that he has enjoyed the “proceeds of the crime” in various foreign countries through his foreign trips, the ED had termed the case an offence of cross-border implications and argued that if he is released on bail, there is every possibility “that he will not be available for further investigation”. The ED has accused Sharma of passing on confidential information to Chinese intelligence officials during such trips.

Sharma, in response, had argued that ED did not have the jurisdiction to register the case and that he is an esteemed journalist with deep roots in society. He also submitted that he is not a flight-risk and had joined the investigation four times when summoned prior to his arrest.

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