The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it believes arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, facing multiple charges in India, fled the country by road through Nepal.
In an affidavit filed in response to Bhandari’s plea for quashing money laundering charges against him, the ED said, “It is relevant to note that when the petitioner fled India, there already existed a Look Out Circular (LOC) against him as his presence was needed by various law enforcement agencies.”
“Because of the existence of LOC, the petitioner could not have travelled by air or sea and, therefore, he is believed to have fled by road through Indo-Nepal border,” the ED said. The ED also requested the court to first decide whether a “declared absconder” like Bhandari can be allowed to invoke the jurisdiction of the court. Appearing for the agency, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended whether the high court can entertain a “discretionary writ at the behest of a person who is a declared absconder, facing a Red Corner Notice (RCN) and is evading the country’s law enforcing agencies”.
“(The) fundamental question is… whether a person against whom RCN is issued, who is a declared absconder and who is evading process of law in India, can have the luxury of wasting the time of Constitutional Courts when a large number of law-abiding citizens are awaiting justice in Constitutional Courts,” the agency affidavit, filed through counsel Amit Mahajan, said.
A Delhi court in January 2018 had declared Bhandari a proclaimed offender in an Official Secrets Act case related to the recovery of confidential documents of the Ministry of Defence from his residence during an Income Tax raid in 2016. Bhandari is also facing prosecution under provisions of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.