The Karnataka High Court has rejected a petition filed by Sudarshan Ramesh, brother of bitcoin scam accused Sirkrishna, questioning the action of Central authorities in restraining him from leaving India and travelling to the Netherlands.
A single judge bench of Justice S G Pandit said, "The apprehension of the respondents that the petitioner being brother of Mr.Sri Krishna might have been involved in acquiring the proceeds of crime at this stage is to be respected, since the investigation is still under progress."
The petitioner had prayed for quashing the impugned endorsement dated January 13 and all subsequent action taken thereafter which can have the effect of creating hindrance in the petitioner's employment prospects. He further sought to direct the respondents to permit the petitioner to travel for the purpose of employment.
It was claimed that the action deprives the petitioner of his current job prospects overseas and thereby deprives him of his income and livelihood. The petition stated that Sudarshan is a Mechanical Engineer and employed at Brunel, based in Eindhoven, Netherlands. As his father was suffering from illness and was hospitalised he had arrived in India on August 12, 2021. He is the only earning member of the family. Further, it was argued that the condition of his employment is such that he is required to work overseas and to return to the Netherlands within six months of staying outside, for renewing his work permit.
On January 13, he reached the Bangalore International Airport and complied with the requisite immigration protocol. However, before he could board the flight, the authorities restrained him from proceeding further. Thereafter, an endorsement was affixed on the petitioner's passport for cancellation.
Petitioner argued that he was not given any prior intimation regarding travel restrictions and that the action of the respondent authorities is wholly contrary to the principles of natural justice.
Additional Solicitor General M B Nargund appearing for the respondents opposed the plea, contending that the presence of the petitioner is necessary for investigation to ascertain his role in the offences of money laundering and also to ascertain all the transactions leading to proceeds of crime. ED argued that the Petitioner has failed to co-operate in the probe by not providing relevant material.
The bench on going through the records noted the Look out Circular (LOC) against the petitioner is issued on the ground that if he is permitted to leave India, it would affect the economic interest of India.
It then observed, "The e-mails of the petitioner which is reproduced in the statement of objections of the respondents reveals that petitioner is intending to take permanent Dutch residence and Dutch citizenship. Therefore, respondents are right in apprehending that petitioner may not be available for further investigation of crime registered against brother of the petitioner."
Noting that no right is absolute and that rights may be restricted by following the procedure prescribed under law, the Court upheld the LOC issued by the ED.
The bench then held, "The third respondent in a sealed cover has made available the request letter of the third respondent issued to second respondent and also note sheet leading to issuance of the said request letter. On going through the same, this Court is satisfied with the reasons recorded in note sheet, while requesting the second respondent to issue LOC against the petitioner."
Finally it said, "It is for the petitioner to cooperate with the investigation being conducted by the third respondent and to convince the third respondent that he has no role to play in the money laundering case registered against his brother and request for withdrawal of LOC issued against him."
Case Tile: Sudarshan Ramesh v. Union Of India
Case No: WP 1730/2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 239
Date of Order: 20TH DAY OF JUNE, 2022
Appearance: Senior Advocate VIKRAM S. HUILGOL, for Advocate S.SUDHARSAN, for petitioner; ASG M.B.NARAGUND, A/W CGC MADHUKAR M. DESHPANDE, FOR R-1 TO R3