1 Sep 2023 5:33 AM GMT
Supreme Court judge Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra recused himself on Friday from hearing a bail plea of Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Delhi government cabinet minister Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case. Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May 2022 and was granted interim bail due to medical reasons earlier this year.A bench comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Mishra...
Supreme Court judge Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra recused himself on Friday from hearing a bail plea of Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Delhi government cabinet minister Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case. Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May 2022 and was granted interim bail due to medical reasons earlier this year.
A bench comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Mishra was slated to hear Jain’s plea challenging the decision of the Delhi High Court to deny him bail in April.
Last week, the court agreed to extend Jain's interim bail for the second time after Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the embattled legislator, stated that he was in rehabilitation following a difficult spinal operation. Despite opposition from Additional Solicitor-General SV Raju, who advocated for an independent examination by AIIMS followed by a cancellation of interim bail, the bench agreed to defer Jain's surrender till September 1, i.e., today. The court also listed his main bail application to be heard on the same day.
Today, Singhvi orally mentioned the matter when the bench assembled, seeking a pass-over. "I want to clarify that I am not seeking an adjournment. I am ready to argue today."
"We are unable to take it up before this bench," Justice Bopanna told the senior counsel.
"I was only asking for a pass-over. But if Your Lordships have a difficulty...But to be frank, and Mr Raju will agree with me, it's a Tuesday case. At the minimum, I will take an hour. It's life and death for this person," Singhvi said, urging the court to re-list the matter for hearing on a Tuesday.
Justice Bopanna ultimately directed Jain's bail plea, as well as that of co-accused Ankush Jain which was also listed today, to be placed before Chief Justice DY Chandrachud to obtain appropriate orders for reassignment to a bench of which Justice Mishra was not a part. At Singhvi's behest, he also agreed to extend the interim bail granted to the AAP leader last week, till the next date of hearing. He pronounced -
"Obtain orders from Hon'ble the Chief Justice to place it before a bench of which one of us(Justice PK Mishra) is not a part. Order to be obtained and listed on September 12. Interim order to continue till the next date."
Recently, Justice Mishra recused himself from hearing Umar Khalid's bail application in the Delhi riots case. He was appointed as a Supreme Court judge on May 16, 2023. Justice Mishra was also in the news when he disagreed with Justice AS Oka on granting interim bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in the Gujarat Police FIR over alleged fabrication of evidence in the riots-related cases, following which the matter was referred to a three-judge bench that ultimately granted her bail.
In 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation accused Jain and others of laundering money to the tune of Rs 11.78 crore during 2010-2012 and Rs 4.63 crores during 2015-16, when he had become a minister in the Delhi government. It was alleged that the money laundering exercise was carried out through three companies – Paryas Infosolution, Indo Metalimpex, Akinchan Developers, and Mangalayatan Projects.
Jain allegedly had given money to some Kolkata-based entry operators of different shell companies for accommodation entries, through his associates. The entry operators had then allegedly re-routed the money in the form of investment through shares in Jain-linked companies after ‘layering them through shell companies’.
The case lodged by the Directorate of Enforcement is based on the CBI complaint and alleges that Jain signed conveyance deeds for the purchase of agricultural lands by Prayas Infosolutions in 2011 and 2012. The central agency has further alleged that the land was later transferred to family members of Jain's associates who denied knowledge about the transfers.
Last year, the ED year attached properties worth Rs. 4.81 crores belonging to five companies and others in the money laundering 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 Aam Aadmi Party leader was taken in custody in connection with the money laundering case on May 30, 2022.
In November of last year, the bail application of the former cabinet minister was dismissed by a trial court, which said that it had prima facie come on record that Jain was ‘actually involved’ in concealing the proceeds of crime by giving cash to the Kolkata-based entry operators and thereafter, bringing the cash into three companies against the sale of shares to show that income of these three companies was untainted.
Subsequently, his bail was denied by the Delhi High Court as well in April, on the ground that he was an influential person and had the potential of tampering with evidence. As such, the twin conditions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 were held to not be satisfied. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma also denied bail to co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain.
In May, a vacation bench headed by Justice JK Maheshwari granted interim bail to the Aam Aadmi Party leader on medical grounds, which was extended by the court in July.
Satyendar Kumar Jain v. Directorate of Enforcement | Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 6561 of 2023
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