‘Cannot proceed merely on basis of assumption’: Delhi HC grants bail to PMLA case accused

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday granted bail to Indore-based real estate developer Vijay Agrawal, in a money laundering case involving alleged international hawala kingpin Naresh Jain, holding that where an individual’s liberty is involved, it cannot proceed only on the basis of assumptions and presumptions.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said there is no “absolute restraint” on the grant of bail under the PMLA or a requirement of “positive finding qua guilt” at this stage.

There must be a clear connection between the money received and the accused’s involvement in the crime related to the scheduled offence, which can be attributed to the accused, the court said, granting bail on a personal bond of Rs 25 lakh subject to conditions after observing that Agrawal’s claim that he did not realise he was dealing with tainted money “cannot be dismissed mechanically”.

“For the purpose… that evidence cannot be meticulously examined at this stage, the court cannot merely proceed on the basis of assumption. There has to be some substantial link between the money received and criminal activity relating to scheduled offence which can be attributed to the petitioner,” said the court.

“The petitioner is stated to be renowned developer and his plea that he did not know that he is dealing with the tainted money cannot be brushed aside mechanically. If the liberty of an individual is concerned, che Court cannot proceed merely on the basis of assumptions and presumptions. The twin conditions of Section 45 do not put an absolute restrain on the grant of bail or require a positive finding qua guilt.”

The court said that while protecting an individual’s right and liberty, it must also take into account the rights of society as a whole and the prosecuting agency because money laundering is a very serious offence that jeopardises the financial stability, integrity, and sovereignty of the nation.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which had had registered a case of money laundering on the basis of the FIR registered by the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing, had apprised the court that Agrawal borrowed money from the co-accused’s shell firms and bought shares of a company at a discount from its actual value in order to promote the conspiracy.

Earlier, the ED, in a statement, had said that it attached several moveable and immoveable properties consisting of residential properties, project lands and industrial plots located in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh worth Rs 65.75 crore in possession of Bimal Kumar Jain, Sunita Jain, Vijay Agrawal and the companies owned or controlled by hawala operator Naresh Jain under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).


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