A Delhi Court on Thursday deferred the arguments in a money laundering case allegedly involving actor Jacqueline Fernandez.
She is on bail in the matter. The alleged conman Sukesh Chandra Shekar is also an accused in this case. This matter pertains to Rs 200 crore money laundering case. Special Judge Shailendra Malik on Thursday deferred the arguments on the charge till December 12.
Advocate Prashant Patil for Jacqueline submitted that he has not been supplied with some documents in the matter.
The court pulled him by saying, “What is this, earlier, the senior advocate had said all the documents have been supplied, but now you are saying those are not supplied.”
The special public prosecutor sought and granted time to argue on the point of charge.
The Court also directed and granted time to the Special Public Prosecutor to file a reply on the discharge application moved on behalf of Avatar Singh Kochar.
The court also directed and granted time to file a reply on the bail application of V Mohan Raj. The court will hear the application on December 16.
The court has directed to file a reply on the application moved by accused Pinky Irani seeking permission to go abroad. This application would be heard on December 3.
The court also directed the Assistant director Ratish Mishra (ED) has been directed to file a list of unrelied documents which not have been yet filed.
While granting bail to actress Jacqueline Fernandez in the case, the court said that it is yet to be examined whether the gifts she received allegedly from Sukesh Chandrasekar were out of proceeds of crime. She is entitled to relief as she was not arrested during the investigation.
Special judge Shailendra Malik in his order had said that the fact that economic offences are more serious offences because of money laundering like in the present case to the tune of rupees 200 crore or more not only affects the economy but very confidence of general public therefore there is no doubt that Court would exam in the case of each of the accused involved in such cases with more scrutiny.
The court further said, “having taken into consideration the gravity of the allegation in economic offences, it is however to be noted that it is the case of the prosecution itself that the accused has allegedly received gifts by the main accused out of the proceeds of crime.”
” However, without expressing much on the merits of the matter which of course would be decided during the trial, it is yet to be examined if there was knowledge, intention or connection of accused in taking those gifts and of proceeds of crime, in this case, the court added.
In that sense, “I find that accused is entitled to relief of more particularly when she was not arrested during the investigation”, the judge said in the order.
They also deal with the question of flight risk raised by the ED in the reply. It had stated that the accused made an abortive to attempt to flee away from India but for there are being of LOC against her on the force when she was not allowed to board by the immigration authorities. It was argued that on December 5, 2021, when the accused was taking a flight for going to Muscat she was not served with any notice requiring her to appear before ED. These facts are not disputed and documents annexed with the reminder also indicate receiving of mail only on 5th December 2021 whereas the accused had written ticket also to India,” the court said.
“To my mind cannot be taken to assume that the accused applicant try to flee away from India,” the judge said.
The court also said even otherwise such apprehension raised on behalf of ED is of no force now as a passport of the accused application is with the investigation agency.
However, the court said that not in every case of money laundering an accused if happens to be a woman or of other categories stated in the provides to section 45 of the act would get well as a matter of right. Any of such accused coming with the proviso to section 45 of PMLA Act still need to fulfil conditions in terms of section 439 CrPC.
Such interpretation of the provision to section 45 would be absolutely in that context that criminal law is gender neutral, the court said.
In this case, may be covered under the provided section 45 (1) of the Act still needs to satisfy the basic conditions under section 439 CrPC for the grant of the bail.
However, the court said, “In the present case accused being a woman having been not arrested by the Ed in facts and evidence of a present case to my mind is certainly entitled for exemption of section 45 on account of being women.”
The court said, “I am of the view that even if an accused has not been arrested during the investigation of ED, still seeking the bail accuses required to fulfil the requirement of twin conditions provided in section.”
The Court had raised questions that why the agency did not arrest during the investigation. The court had said that the agency arrested some accused but did not arrest some others. Why this policy of pick and choose?
Jacquline’s Counsel senior advocate Siddharth Agarwal and Prashant Patil submitted that the actress cooperated with the investigation and her statement was recovered 5 times. They also submitted that she was not arrested during the investigation and supplementary charge sheet has been filed and she is also a woman. This proposition ought not to be altered by the court. It was also argued that she was not aware that the gifts she received were out of proceeds of crime. In these circumstances, she is entitled to bail.
On the other hand counsel for ED submitted that she has a history of attempting to flee the country. She did not cooperate in the investigation. Apart from this, she is economically sound, she can influence the investigation and win over the witnesses.
She possessed, used and enjoyed the proceeds of crime, ED argued. It is the role of the accused. The investigation is still going on, any other may crop up.
ED’s counsel also submitted that she is a foreign national and has roots in Sri Lanka. Her parents live in Bahrin, his brother is living in Australia and her sister is in another country. She may flee if she is enlarged on bail.
She can not be granted bail only on the grounds of the accused being a woman as she did not cooperate in the investigation. In these circumstances she may not be granted bail, ED’s counsel submitted.
Earlier, she was granted interim bail in the matter by the trial court.