A SPECIAL court in Mumbai rejected a plea for discharge and release filed by officials of an educational trust booked by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money-laundering of proceeds received from duping several students under the pretext of facilitating admission to a college for an MBBS course.
The officials told the court that the case filed against them in Satara by the police was settled and disposed of before a Lok Adalat on November 12. Hence, the ED case cannot continue. The special court said that the case relates to the alleged cheating of various innocent students and parents, who lost their hard-earned life earnings, and they can file an appeal against Lok Adalat’s decision.
Special Judge M G Deshpande said that it cannot be ignored that only one person had appeared before the Lok Adalat and withdrawn the complaint. It said that the accused’s plea was pre-mature and they can seek discharge and release after the period of limitation for filing an appeal is completed.
A case was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against officials of the Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society in Satara claiming that they had cheated students and parents, 41 of whom had given their statements to the investigators. It was claimed that the accused had given unauthorised admissions to 95 students by hiding the fact that they did not have the requisite permissions. It was alleged that money was collected for admissions from the students and their parents.
“Object of PML Act is confiscation of laundered money and proceeds of crime. Scheduled Offence relates to cheating various innocent students and their parents. Many of them have lost their hard-earned life earnings. If the application is allowed in a hasty manner, as proposed by the accused herein, it will cause horrific consequences of disposal of a special case relating to money laundering,” the court said.
It said that the victim has a right to challenge an order of acquittal and in this case, all those affected were not present before the Lok Adalat. “Any victim can prefer an appeal against acquittal and the court has to wait till the period of appeal ends,” the court said.
ED special public prosecutor Arvind Aghav submitted that these persons also may want to file an appeal and hence the ED case cannot be closed.