21 Nov 2023 5:08 AM GMT
In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court dismissed the appellant's plea for bail on the grounds of parity with other co-accused who had been granted bail in a money laundering case. The Court emphatically stated that the principle of parity is not an absolute law but depends on individual circumstances and roles in the alleged offense.It observed “It is axiomatic that the principle of parity...
In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court dismissed the appellant's plea for bail on the grounds of parity with other co-accused who had been granted bail in a money laundering case. The Court emphatically stated that the principle of parity is not an absolute law but depends on individual circumstances and roles in the alleged offense.
It observed “It is axiomatic that the principle of parity is based on the guarantee of positive equality before law enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. However, if any illegality or irregularity has been committed in favour of any individual or a wrong order has been passed by a judicial forum, others cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the higher or court for repeating the same irregularity or illegality. Article 14 is not meant to perpetuate the illegality or irregularity. If there has been a benefit or advantage conferred on one or a set of people by the court, without legal basis or justification, other persons could not claim as a matter of right the benefit on the basis of such wrong decision”
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Justice Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi was hearing an appeal against the Delhi HC judgment which had rejected the bail application of the petitioner. The petitioner was charged with offenses under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998, and under Section 120B read with sections 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of IPC.
The appellant, a nephew of Sh. Kewal Krishan Kumar, one of the directors of M/s. Shakti Bhog Foods Ltd. (SBFL), was arrested on June 22, 2022, in connection with a money laundering case. SBFL faced a forensic audit by BDO India LLP, initiated by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India. The audit(2013-2017) revealed financial irregularities causing a loss of Rs. 3269.42 crores to the consortium member banks.
An FIR was registered on December 31, 2020, by the CBI, Bank Securities and Fraud Cell, New Delhi, against SBFL's directors/guarantors. Subsequently, an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) was recorded on January 31, 2021, for committing offense under section 3 of the PMLA Act. The Special Judge at the Rouse Avenue Court Complex, New Delhi, dismissed the bail application on December 23, 2022. Furthermore, the High Court of Delhi rejected the appellant's bail application on July 18, 2023.
Aggrieved by the same, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.
In the present case, the appellant had argued that since other co-accused in similar situations had been granted bail, he should also be entitled to the same. However, the court firmly rejected this argument, emphasizing that the application of the principle of parity requires a careful consideration of the specific role played by the accused under consideration.
In this case, the High Court had distinguished the appellant's situation from that of another individual, Raman Bhuraria, who had been granted bail. The court noted that while Raman Bhuraria was an internal auditor of the company for a brief period, the appellant served as the Vice President of Purchases, responsible for day-to-day operations. The High Court further observed that the appellant's role was evident from financial records, indicating the diversion of loan funds to sister concerns where the appellant held a stake.
The Apex court rejected a blanket application of the principle of parity and dismissed the appeal.
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Case title: Tarun Kumar v. ED
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2023 (@ SLP (Crl.) No. 9431 of 2023)
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