Former minister of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Satyendar Jain’s bail plea in a money laundering case probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been reserved by the Delhi High Court.
Jain was arrested on May 30, 2022, by the agency on charges of laundering money through four companies allegedly linked to him. The high court reserved its verdict after hearing arguments from the lawyers representing Jain and the ED.
Jain, who had challenged a trial court’s decision to dismiss his bail plea on the ground that he was prima facie involved in concealing proceeds of crime, had earlier submitted that no case was made against him.
He argued that he had fully cooperated with the investigation and there was no requirement to continue his incarceration after the chargesheet was filed. Jain’s bail plea was opposed by the ED, which argued that his release would obstruct further investigation.
The ED had arrested Jain in the money laundering case based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR lodged against him in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In its reply filed in the court, the agency said Jain’s bail plea should be dismissed as he was a sitting minister at the time of the alleged offence and his release could hinder the investigation.
The agency asserted that during its investigation, it was found that the “modus operandi” in the case involved “transferring cash from Delhi to Kolkata through Hawala operators and in lieu of cash, accommodation entries were layered and received from Kolkata-based shell companies into companies owned by applicant (Satyendar Jain) and agricultural lands were purchased from these funds”. The reply has further emphasised that there is “clear cut evidence” of Jain influencing co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain in Tihar jail.
“Money laundering is crystal clear. Their case is that Satyendar Jain has nothing to do with it. I have to establish that Satyendar Jain was in the thick of these things,” said Additional Solicitor General S V Raju before the high court. Jain, who was a former minister of prisons and health, is receiving favourable treatment from prison officials, including the prison doctors, according to the ED.
Jain has sought bail in relation to the ED’s case registered on September 30, 2017, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and said in his plea that he is neither in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence nor is he a flight risk. His plea has claimed that since he was not in possession of any proceeds, the offence under the PMLA was not made out. The plea has claimed that the special judge and the ED have gravely misread and misapplied the PMLA by identifying proceeds of crime solely on the basis of accommodations entries which cannot itself lead to a punishable offence under the Act.
Last year, the trial court had taken cognisance of the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) filed by the ED against Jain, his wife, and eight others, including the four firms, in connection with the money laundering case. The high court has also reserved its order on the bail pleas of Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, who were co-accused with Satyendar Jain. The trial court had also denied bail to both, stating that they “knowingly” assisted Satyendar Jain in concealing proceeds of crime and were “prima facie guilty” of money laundering. (With inputs from PTI)