Delhi HC Dismisses Satyendar Jain's Bail Plea In Money Laundering Case, Holds He May Tamper With Evidence
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the bail plea of jailed former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The high court, while dismissing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader's bail plea, said he is an influential person and may tamper with evidence.
Satyendar Jain, who was arrested on May 30 last year by the agency, is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma also rejected the bail pleas of co-accused in the case Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain.
While pronouncing the order, the high court said there was no illegally or infirmity in the trial court's order by which the bail pleas were dismissed. Justice Sharma said Satyendar Jain cannot be said to have satisfied the twin conditions for bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The high court noted that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a case of disproportionate assets (DA) and the competent court is seized of the matter.
"The present court cannot go into validity of these proceedings. Facts show that certain disproportionate assets were masked. The court has to see the prima facie case. The broad probabilities indicate that the companies associated to him are controlled and managed by him (Satyendar Jain)," it said.
The high court said the special court's order denying bail does not suffer from any perversity and the order is well reasoned. The high court had reserved the order on the bail plea on March 21 after hearing arguments of the counsel for the ED and the AAP leader and the two others.
The three accused had challenged the trial court's November 17 last year order by which their bail pleas were dismissed.
Satyendar Jain has earlier submitted that no case was made out against him and he has fully cooperated in the investigation and there was no requirement to continue his incarceration after filing of charge sheet.
The trial court had said that Satyendar Jain was prima facie involved in concealing the proceeds of crime. Besides him, the trial court had also denied bail to Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, saying they "knowingly" assisted Satyendar Jain in concealing the proceeds of crime and were "prima facie guilty" of money laundering.
The bail pleas of all the three accused were opposed by the ED. The agency's counsel had argued that the AAP leader's stand that there are no proceeds of crime can be "demolished" by the material on record which also shows that he was "in the thick of things".
In its reply filed in the court, the agency has said the bail plea of Satyendar Jain, who was a minister at the time of the alleged offence, should be dismissed as his release would obstruct further investigation and there is CCTV footage from Tihar jail, where he is in judicial custody, to show that he is an "influential person" who may influence witnesses and frustrate the proceedings.
The ED had arrested Satyendar Jain in the money laundering case based on a CBI FIR registered against him in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
He was granted regular bail by a trial court on September 6, 2019, in the case registered by the CBI.
"Money laundering is crystal clear. Their case is that Satyendar Jain has nothing to do with it. I have to establish that Satyendar Jain was in the thick of these things," the ED's counsel had argued before the high court.
He had claimed that there was a statement under Section 50 of the PMLA by Satyendar Jain which also supports the agency's case and there are proceeds of crime of over Rs 4 crore.
The agency asserted that during investigation, it was found that the "modus operandi" in the case involved "transferring cash from Delhi to Kolkata through Hawala operators and in lieu of cash, accommodation entries were layered and received from Kolkata-based shell companies into companies owned by applicant (Satyendar Jain) and agricultural lands were purchased from these funds. Applicant has denied having any role in taking accommodation entries in his companies".
The reply has further emphasized that there is clear-cut evidence of Satyendar Jain influencing co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain in Tihar jail. The special treatment extended by the prison authorities to Satyendar Kumar Jain shows that the ED's apprehension throughout was correct that being a former minister of prisons and health he is receiving favourable treatment from the prison officials including the prison doctors, it has added.
The ED has also submitted that Jain has been non-cooperative with the probe and has given evasive replies.
The former minister has sought bail in relation to the ED's case registered on September 30, 2017 under the PMLA and said in his plea that he is neither in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence nor he is a flight risk. Further, as the charge sheet has already been filed, there is no requirement to continue his incarceration in the case, he has asserted.
In his plea, he has claimed that since he was not in possession of any proceeds, the offence under the PMLA was not made out. The plea has claimed that the special judge and ED has gravely misread and misapplied the PMLA by identifying proceeds of crime solely on the basis of accommodations entries which cannot itself lead to a punishable offence under the Act.
Proceeds of crime under the PMLA have to be derived as a result of scheduled criminal activity, it has said. While denying bail, the trial court had said "prima facie" Satyendar Jain was actually involved in concealing the proceeds of crime by giving cash to the Kolkata-based entry operators and thereafter, bringing the cash into three companies... against the sale of shares to show that the income of these three companies was untainted one.
In 2022, the trial court had taken cognizance of the prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed by the ED against Satyendar Jain, his wife and eight others, including the four firms, in connection with the money laundering case.
With PTI Inputs