Fresh bail bids by money laundering accused after SC verdict

NEW DELHI: With the apex court striking down stringent terms of granting bail in money laundering cases, many jailed accused whose pleas have been trashed earlier are making fresh bids to secure freedom by moving lower courts.
Buoyed by the November 23 verdict, various accused including alleged hawala dealer Mohammad Aslam Wani, arrested in a money laundering case involving Kashmiri separatist Shabir Shah, and two Delhi-based businessmen brothers Surendra Kumar Jain and Virendra Jain have made a beeline to courts to make fresh attempts for bail.
Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) imposed conditions such as an accused in a laundering case can be given bail only if the public prosecutor gets an opportunity to oppose the bail plea, besides the satisfaction of the court that the jailed person was not guilty and would not commit other offence while on bail.
The top court set aside the provision to the extent of these twin embargoes saying that it was “manifestly arbitrary” and “unconstitutional” as it intruded into the fundamental rights of the accused.
Giving a ray of hope, the apex court said that all cases in which bail has been denied so far due to the conditions contained in Section 45, will now go back to respective courts which trashed the similar plea in past.
Sudden spurt in bail pleas have led the Enforcement Directorate, which probes and prosecutes money laundering cases, to seek report and the status of such cases from its investigating officers.
Nitesh Rana, special public prosecutor of the ED, has been opposing bails of the accused and has now been served with a host of similar fresh pleas.
The ED had recently raided the farmhouses of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband in Delhi in relation to the case being probed against Jain brothers, who are alleged to have laundered money using over 90 shell companies.
While a Delhi court has sought ED’s response on Wani’s bail plea by November 27, another court directed the probe agency to file its reply to Jain brothers’ plea by November 29.
Two directors of Surya Vinayak Industries Limited — Sanjay Jain and Rajiv Jain — currently in judicial custody in in a money-laundering case related to alleged cheating of a large number of banks to the tune of Rs 2,240 crore by using around 100 shell companies, have also approached a Delhi court seeking bail placing reliance on the verdict.
The court has put up the matter for hearing on November 28 while directing the probe agency to file a reply on the application of both the accused, who were arrested by the ED on August 22, days after they were granted bail in a separate CBI case related to the present matter.
On November 29, a city court will also hear the bail matter of Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan, arrested in a Rs 5,000-crore money laundering case. (AGENCIES)


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