The Delhi High Court has granted interim relief to M3M Group owners Basant Bansal and Pankaj Bansal in a PMLA case related to a real estate firm IREO Group.

“…the totality of the matter, the fact that the Applicant has not been named in the ECIR and that the respondent has not yet been able to implicate the Applicant in any of the Scheduled Offences under the PMLA, in the interest of justice as well as considering the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, this Court is of the considered opinion that the Applicant may be granted interim protection till the next date of hearing”, a bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed in the matter.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the applicant and Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain appeared for ED.

In the present matter 13 FIRs were registered by certain allottees of two separate residential projects, „Skyon‟ and Floors, plots and Villas, undertaken by the IREO Group, i.e., M/s IREO Pvt. Ltd. and M/s IREO FiveRiver Pvt. Ltd., respectively, on the ground of delay in handing over/delivery of possession of apartments/ commercial units. There were no specific allegations against the applicant, his family members, and the M3M Group or any of its entity

Also upon investigation, the Enforcement Directorate in the registered ECIR as well, did not array the applicant or the M3M Group of Companies as accused.

However, on January 14 2022, the respondent filed a prosecution complaint, Asst. Director, Directorate of Enforcement vs. Lalit Goyal & Ors against 7 accused under Section 200 of the CrPC and Section 44 and 45 of the PMLA for offences under Section 3 read with Section 70 punishable under Section 4 of PMLA raising the number of FIRs from 13 to 30.

On January 21, 2022, Special Judge (PMLA), Panchkula, Haryana took cognizance of the prosecution complaint filed by the respondent. 6.

On May 12 2023, the respondent issued summons to the M3M India Pvt. Ltd. calling upon it to appear to provide information and documents pertaining to transactions of M3M with certain companies. A summon was also issued to the applicant in the capacity of authorized representative.

On June 1 2023, the respondent carried out raids where it seized certain valuables.

It was pursuant to a fresh summon issued on June 6, 2023, that the applicant, along with Roop Kumar Bansal and Pankaj Bansal and M3M approached the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking protection.

However, the respondents opposed the relief contending that the applicant should have approached the Court of Sessions first for the purpose of Anticipatory Bail.

But the applicant contended that the provision under Section 438(1) of CrPC, gives concurrent jurisdiction to both the Court in entertaining an Anticipatory Bail Application. Moreover, there is no bar on approaching this Court directly, and it is discretionary for the Applicant either to approach the High Court or the Court of Session.

Furthermore, the applicant submitted that they duly responded to the summons and cooperated in the investigation throughout. Further, underlined the fact that the main accused Lalit Goyal has already been granted bail in the matter which was not opposed by ED.

Also highlighted the fact that the respondent has already seized numerous assets, including cars, cash, jewelry, etc. and also issued letters to bankers of M3M and its Group Companies directing that various bank accounts of the Company and its group concerns be marked as 'debit freeze' accounts.

Moreover, the applicant urged that he has not yet been implicated in any Scheduled Offences as provided under the PMLA and in fact, the ECIR does not even find mention of the name of the applicant or any of the M3M Companies.

The bench therefore, considering the relevant submissions made, the factual chain of the pertinent case, and in the interest of justice as well as considering the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, granted anticipatory bail to the applicant till the next day of hearing.

The Court referred to Siddharth Varadarajan v. State of UP, 2020 SCC Online All 620, wherein the Court enunciated the jurisprudence of the Section 438 of the CrPC and Sushila Aggarwal vs. State of NCT of Delhi, (2020) 5 SCC 1 where it was observed that jail is an exception and bail is the rule.

Accordingly the bench released the applicant on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,00,000/- with two sureties to the satisfaction of the Investigating Agency.

The Court will hear the matter next on July 5, 2023.

Cause Title: Basant Bansal v. State (Govt. Of NCT Of Delhi) & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order