The Supreme Court recently granted interim bail for three days to a businessman, incarcerated in Sabarmati Central Correctional Home at Ahmedabad, for the purpose of allowing the individual to file income tax returns under the provisions of the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act.

The Bench consisting of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M. Trivedi was considering a Criminal Appeal challenging the order passed by the Gujarat High Court, which had refused to grant temporary bail to the applicant. In the impugned order, the High Court had noted that the present applicant was actively involved in corrupt practices in the Afroz Fatta case and the Cricket Betting case, along with co-accused individuals who had received a significant amount of bribes as quid pro quo for their acts of omission and commission during the investigation of the aforementioned cases. Additionally, the applicant was found to have conspired with other unidentified officials of the Enforcement Directorate and private individuals.

The High Court had also noted that the applicant played the role of conduit and demanded bribes from other bookies on behalf of and in the name of Shri J.P.Singh, Joint Director, ED in the matter of PMLA pertaining to IPL Betting matter and the applicant was in direct contact with Shri J.P.Singh.

Senior Advocate R.P. Bhatt along with Advocate-on-Record Mohit D. Ram appeared for the Applicant while Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the Respondents.

The applicant before the Apex Court submitted that he seeks interim bail for the purpose of finalizing the accounts for filing returns under the provisions of the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act. It was also submitted that he failed to persuade his own Auditors to bring the statements to the correctional home for the purpose of verification and signing.

Considering the submissions made, the Bench ordered, "In such circumstances, we grant him interim bail for three days, upon setting aside the impugned order, with the following conditions:- (i) He shall be released on interim bail for three days subject to such terms the Trial Court may consider fit and proper in addition to the conditions which we stipulate here. (ii) He shall be permitted to travel to Mumbai for three days but during this period, he shall be escorted by a team of Officers of Central Bureau of Investigation (‘C.B.I.’) at his own cost."

Continuing the Court further ordered, "The said team of Officers shall accompany him to Mumbai as also escort him to any place he visits there for the purpose of preparing returns/reports under the aforesaid statutes. (iii) The appellant shall also make proper arrangement for accommodation of the said team of Officers at the place where he would be residing in Mumbai. (iv) After three days from the date he is released from the correctional home, he shall return there."

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Criminal Appeal.

Cause Title: Bimal Ramgopal Agarwal v. The State Of Gujarat & Ors. [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 3036 OF 2023]

Click here to read/download the Order