The Chhattisgarh High Court denied anticipatory bail to a man who was the brother of the mastermind behind an illegal coal levy case on the ground that he actively participated in the extortion racket and acted as an accountant who managed the illegal cash.

The said man had filed an anticipatory bail application under Section 438 of Cr.PC. for having apprehension of being arrested in connection to the offence punishable under Sections 186, 204, 353, 120B, and 384 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

A Single Bench of Justice Narendra Kumar Vyas said, “… he was knowingly and actively participated in the extortion racket and acted as the accountant who managed the illegal cash. It is also revealed during the investigation by Enforcement Directorate that the applicant is the brother and a close associate of Suryakant Tiwari who is the mastermind behind the present illegal coal levy scam at ground level, is having strong links with politicians and businessmen in the State of Chhattisgarh as Suryakant Tiwari being closely associated with Ms. Saumya Chaurasia, who is a highly influential individual in Chhattisgarh.”

Senior Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal appeared for the applicant while Advocate Sourabh Kumar Pande appeared for the respondent.

In this case, a search and seizure investigation under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act was conducted in the year 2022 and certain incriminating materials were found in the hotel room of Hotel Shereton Grand, Bengaluru where Suryakant Tiwari (mastermind) was staying. Based on this, a complaint was lodged by the Income Tax Department alleging offences under Sections 186, 204, and 353 read with Section 120B of the IPC which led to the registration of the FIR.

Based upon the further investigation, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case and further probe was conducted. In the course of the investigation, main accused- Suryakant Tiwari was summoned and was then arrested. It was alleged that the applicant along with others was involved in criminal conspiracy to run a parallel system of collecting illegal levy on coal and was doing illegal and accounted cash movement as per the instructions of the main accused.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “The judgment cited by learned Senior counsel for the applicant is distinguishable from the facts of the present case as in the present case, prima facie the Enforcement Directorate has collected certain material against the applicant, particularly the role played by him as he was an active member of the extortion syndicate and was focal point as all the extorted cash was deposited, stored and subsequently dispatched for utilization as per the instructions of Suryakant Tiwari.”

Furthermore, the Court noted that the material collected by the investigation prima facie reflects that many hand written entries in the diaries were made by the applicant only.

“In view of above factual and legal matrix, statement of present applicant recorded under Section 50 (2) of the PMLA, 2002, prima facie, involvement of the applicant is reflected. The material collected by the Enforcement Directorate has not been rebutted which also prima facie reflects about involvement of the applicant”, said the Court.

The Court added that the applicant is unable to fulfil the twin conditions of Section 45 which are required for grant of bail under the PMLA, and is equally applicable for grant of anticipatory bail.

Accordingly, the High Court rejected the anticipatory bail application.

Cause Title- Rajnikant Tiwari v. Directorate of Enforcement (Neutral Citation: 2023:CGHC:26629)

Click here to read/download the Judgment