The Gujarat High Court has recently rejected the pleas filed by a former IAS Officer who sought discharge in two old cases relating to corruption and money laundering. The Court said that in both such cases, prima facie there was sufficient material against the applicant.

A Single Bench of Justice Samir J. Dave observed, “While rejecting the discharge application of the applicant, learned trial court has specifically observed that on the basis of prima facie investigation made by ED, it appears that the applicant is prima facie involved in Hawala ie., illegal transfer of money from nation to foreign countries. Prima facie there is sufficient material, which warrants this court to arrive at prima facie inferences that applicant is involved in such serious case wherein discretion is not required to be exercised.”

The Bench asserted that the applicant had prima facie miserably failed to discharge his burden under Section 24 of the Prevention of the Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

Advocate HB Champavat represented the applicant while Additional Solicitor General of India Devang Vyas and Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin represented the respondents.

Brief Facts

The applicant had requested to quash and set aside the judgment passed by Sessions Judge and Designated Judge (PMLA) District Court, Ahmedabad (Rural) registered with Enforcement Directorate. He further urged to discharge him under Section 227 of the CrPC from a case pending before the Sessions Judge and Designated Judge (PMLA) District Court, Ahmedabad (Rural).

The applicant was arrested in connection with the inquiry being registered by the ED and subsequently, after investigation, the ED filed a complaint for the offence under Sections 3 and 4 of the PMLA. Therefore, the applicant approached the High Court by filing an application.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “… there is serious allegations against the applicant so far as Hawala chapter is concerned wherein the Hawala entries via Dubai (UAE), crores of rupees have been credited in the accounts of wife of the applicant as well as his children in USA and the wife of the applicant was made partner in a firm to the extent of 30% by investment of only RS. 1 lakh and getting crores of rupees from India as well as UAE.”

The Court also noted that the defence taken and evidence produced by the accused should not be considered at such a stage.

“At the present stage, it is to see that whether prima facie offence is there against the accused or not and evaluation of evidence produced by the accused and evaluation of the evidence should not be considered at this stage”, said the Court.

The Court observed that the challenged order does not suffer from any illegality, irregularity, or impropriety and hence directed the Trial Court to conclude the trial within a period of six months.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the pleas.

Cause Title- Pradeep Nirankarnath Sharma v. Directorate Of Enforcement & Anr.

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