Delhi HC Reserves Verdict On The Bail Plea Of Satyendar Jain In Money Laundering Case
The Delhi High Court has reserved its order on the bail plea of jailed former AAP minister Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He was arrested on May 30 last year by the agency and is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma reserved the verdict on the bail plea after hearing the arguments of the lawyers for the ED and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.
Satyendar Jain had 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 chargesheet.
The AAP leader has challenged a trial court's November 17 last year order by which his bail plea was dismissed on the ground that he was prima facie involved in concealing proceeds of crime.
Besides him, the trial court had also denied bail to co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, saying that they "knowingly" assisted Satyendar Jain in concealing proceeds of crime and were "prima facie guilty" of money laundering.
The high court also reserved its order on the bail pleas of Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain. The pleas of all three were opposed by the ED.
The ED'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 that also shows he was "in the thick of things". In its reply filed in the court, the agency said the bail plea of Satyendar Jain, who was a sitting minister at the time of the alleged offence, should be dismissed as his release would obstruct further investigation.
There is also 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, it said.
The ED had arrested Satyendar Jain in the money laundering case based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR lodged 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 lodged 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," Additional Solicitor General S V Raju had argued before the high court.
He had claimed that there was a statement under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by Satyendar Jain which also supports the ED'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 present 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".
The "applicant has denied having any role in taking accommodation entries in his companies", the ED said. The reply has further emphasised 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 Satyendar 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 chargesheet has already been filed, there is no requirement to continue his incarceration in the present case, Satyendar Jain 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 the ED have 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".
Last year, the trial court had taken cognizance of the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) 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