A Delhi Court on Thursday reserved order on the application moved by Enforcement Directorate (ED) for transfer of the money laundering proceedings against Aam Aadmi Party leader Satyendar Jain from a Special Court.
The order is likely to be pronounced tomorrow by Principal District & Sessions Judge Vinay Kumar Gupta.
Appearing for the agency, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the Court that having served as Minister of Health and Jails in the city, Jain could influence the doctors and jail authorities and manage to get forged documents while seeking interim bail on grounds ill health.
Raju argued that Jain faked his illness and got himself admitted in a hospital, being administratively run by the Delhi Government.
Therefore, Raju said that the agency has an apprehension of bias against the Special Judge in deciding the matter, on the ground that despite bringing on record various documents to show that Jain was an influencing personality and documents may be forged in his favour, the Judge refused to consider the same.
"He also happened to be minister of jails. Jail superintendent and jail doctors are managed. Jail authorities can be managed either by money power or otherwise political power," Raju argued.
He added "Our case is that the reports would be forged because he was a minister there. That wasn't considered. Despite our objections, the Judge called for report."
Arguing that Jain remained in hospital of his choice despite being in custody, Raju submitted that while Jain complaint of how serious his health was, various adjournments were sought from his side in Court and the plea seeking interim bail on health grounds was withdrawn later.
"This proves my contention by the fact that the application was withdrawn. If there was any substance, it wouldn't have been withdrawn. It was filed on the ground that I (Jain) am so sick, bad ridden, can't move, need an assistance. This was their case. Our case is he is faking sickness, the hospital is managed. Judge didn't consider our arguments on this point," Raju argued.
He added "The Judge doesn't say a whisper about it. It could have rejected my argument that the hospital was managed. But not a whisper."
"When we say that he (Jain) was a jail minister, the Judge didn't't consider anything. Jail staff and the jail superintendent were under him.....Look at the conduct of the judge. I need not use any adjective for the conduct. But I demonstrated from the record of the case."
Raju also submitted that even a common man would know that if a minister heading a hospital is admitted, there will be an element of bias as to how he will be examined in the said hospital.
"In my career of more than 42 years, I never came accross a situation that a certificate is granted to accused that he be produced in court because of jerky movements.... when he is to be produced to court, he gets a certificate that because of jerky movement, he shouldn't go. The Judge considers it, endorses it," Raju said.
On the othet hand, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Jain took the Court through the facts of the case by submitting that the issue arose after Jain moved a regular bail application before the Special Judge on August 17, having been denied the same once in June.
"I assume they have a genuine apprehension a month before regular bail application was filed. I guess any party having genuine apprehension will move immediately. On August 17, my bail application is filed. It is argued on several days. What's important is, he files counter to application on August 20. Doesn't raise question of bias. If he had apprehension that judge was biased in my favour, there's not a whisper in response to the bail application," Sibal submitted.
Calling the agency's application as a mala fide plea, Sibal said that no apprehension was put forth by ED before September 15 when the matter was being heard in its final stages.
"Orally you're attributing something to the judge. And the judge is entitled to say you haven't answered to the question. Is the judge supposed to be a silent spectator? How is this a relevant fact? Judge also agreed when issues were controverted during submissions. Is this a ground for transfer?," Sibal said.
He added "All this happened much prior. What is the bias that the judge may grant regular bail? Because judge didn't allow accused to be shifted to AIIMS or Safdarjang? When did that happen? In July. Between July and September 13, nothing happened."
"This is a mala fide application, to derail the trial, to prolong my custody, to ensure that their whims and fancies are agreed to and send a message to judiciary that if you don't agree to us, this is what will happen."
Sibal also said that as per an official notification, Jain was not holding the ministerial position of any department anymore.
"He is not a minister of any portfolio. He is neither a health minister nor jail minister, he is in jail," he added.
Sibal also said that merely because the hospital where Jain was admitted was under the adminstrative control of Delhi goverment is no ground to allege bias.
"As if the doctor will agree and violate the oath of office! Is that a ground? Delhi Government funds the infrastructure of these courts, does it not?," Sibal said.
He added "If a union minister goes to AIIMS, can anybody say....I have been a union minister, if I go there, can someone say that I was a minister therefore there is a bias? Ghulam Nabi Azad has been a union minister of health, what if he goes there? What kind of argument? Is my friend serious? Is he going to casticade entire medical community in LNJP hospital to say that they are biased?"
"Where are we going in this country? This way we will not trust our doctors, hospitals and judges...Is this the way a serious argument is raised by an agency, the Government of India is rasing this argument?"
Sibal further said that no apprehension of bias was raised by ED when the same Judge remanded Jain twice to judicial custody for a period of 14 days and also dismissed his regular bail application on June 18.
"This is unheard of. Nobody is safe like this. If you want to change judge, you will say anything?," Sibal said further.
He added "They don't want the matter to go on. Another two months will pass, then application will be heard and he'll be continued to be in jail. The judge is familiar with all the facts, but another judge will have to be familiar and will take another two months. Timing is important, look at the timing."
"Can it stand the test of reasonableness?....There is no illegality in the action of the judge to even lead to assumption that there's any possible likelihood of bias."
After an ED's plea seeking transfer of the case from a Special Court, the Principal District & Sessions Judge on September 19 stayed the proceedings in the matter and posted the application for hearing on September 30.
However, after an urgent mentioning before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Principal District & Sessions Judge was directed to take up, hear and dispose of the plea by today itself.
ED had attached properties worth Rs. 4.81 crore belonging to five companies and others in connection with an alleged disproportionate assets case against Jain and others. These assets reportedly were in the name of Akinchan Developers, Indo Metal Impex, Paryas Infosolutions, Mangalayatan Projects and J.J. Ideal Estate etc.
The money laundering case is based upon an FIR registered by the CBI against the minister and other individuals in the year 2017, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, wherein it was alleged that during the period of February 2015 to May 2017, the minister had acquired assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The CBI had then filed a chargesheet in December 2018 against Jain.
Presently, Jain is in judicial custody in the said money laundering case.