A Delhi court on Thursday denied bail to minister Satyendar Jain in connection with the money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Special judge Vikas Dhull also rejected bail to co-accused Vaibhav and Ankush Jain in the case.
On Wednesday, Dhull had deferred passing the order, noting that even though Jain’s order was ready, the orders for the other two accused were yet to be finalised.Jain was arrested on May 30 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and is currently lodged in the Tihar Jail.
In September, when the bail hearing of all the accused was at the final stage, the ED filed an application seeking transfer of the case from the court of special judge Geetanjali Goel to a new judge while raising an apprehension of bias.
The agency had said the minister had faked his illness by getting a report from the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, and despite knowing that there is something fishy, the trial court judge did not go to check the veracity of the medical certificate.
On September 23, the principal and sessions judge Vinay Kumar Gupta allowed ED’s application that had stated “a grave likelihood and a reason to believe that the issues (in the case) have been premeditated”.
Even though Jain and other accused challenged the transfer of the case to a new judge hours within it was pronounced, the Delhi high court rejected the plea on October 1, saying that the ED’s apprehension of bias by a trial court judge is reasonable and not based on flimsy ground.
The court had said the apprehension of bias by the trial court judge was not raised at a belated stage, “as the requests for an independent evaluation were consistently made”. It further said the apprehension has to be seen from the point of view of the party and not from the judge’s angle.
Jain challenged the high court’s order in the Supreme Court, but later withdrew his petition and commenced the bail hearing in the trial court before Special judge Vikas Dhull. Seeking bail, Jain said that no purpose would be served by keeping him in custody any longer as the agency had already filed the prosecution complaint in the case.
The ED, on the other hand, had contended that the accused was getting special services in the jail, where he was using his position as a minister. The judge had reserved the order after hearing arguments of the accused persons, including Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, as well as the ED.
The case is based on a 2017 CBI FIR lodged against the minister in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. The ED has accused him of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him and where he was holding shares while amassing disproportionate income.
According to ED, Jain transferred money to Kolkata through the hawala channel and got it back from dummy companies in the form of accommodation entries, even though he could not show the source of the money received.