The Delhi High court on Saturday dismissed the plea of Delhi Minister Satyender Jain challenging the trial court order transferring his money laundering case to another judge.
Justice Yogesh Khanna dismissed Jain’s plea challenging the order of September 23, 2022, passed by the Principal District and Sessions Judge transferring his money laundering case from one court to another. Justice Khanna noted in the order that the question is not of integrity or uprightness of the Judge but of apprehension in the mind of a party (ED).
Justice Khanna while passing the order observed that the facts show that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) did not merely harbour an apprehension of bias but had acted upon it as well by rushing to the HC and therefore the apprehension cannot be said to be flimsy or not reasonable.
The court further observed, “The apprehensions raised were not at a belated stage, as the request for an independent medical evaluation was consistently made.”
The court held that the district judge while transferring the case has considered all these aspects and therefore does not suffer from any illegality and does not require any interference.
The ED had contended that the doctors and jail authorities were managed as the accused earlier had the Health and Jail Department portfolio as Delhi cabinet Minister.
Satyender Jain had moved Delhi High Court challenging Principal District and Sessions Court of Rouse Avenue Court order allowing ED Petition for transfer of his case to another judge. During the rebuttal argument, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra argued that there is no material to show biasedness on the part of the judge.
Rahul Mehra had referred to the application moved by ED seeking transfer of the case to another judge which said that the agency is not casting any aspersions but there is a grave likelihood, and reason to believe that issues were premeditated.
Mehra raised a question to ED and said,” Who are you to raise to cast these aspersions? Still, you are saying you are not casting aspersions.”
He had also submitted that you (ED) is an agency of the central government and you are saying that the doctors were sold out, how can you say that? Some of the doctors in LNJP are Padma Shri and even Padma Vibhushan. They are life savers. You asked the High Court to direct the jail authorities to admit the petitioner to AIIMS which is under your direct control.
The senior counsel argued that there may be a bias between the accused and jail authorities, and added, “Where the judge came into this? Even Ajmal Kasab had a fair trial in this country, it is the fairness of our judicial system.”
At the outset of the arguments in the morning, it was stated by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal on behalf of Jain that the ED sought a transfer of the case after my rejoinder on the bail application was over. Though, all the facts mentioned in the transfer application were in the knowledge of the prosecution agency.
Sibal had submitted that one of the grounds in the application moved on 19 September, was that some of the submissions by the counsel for the agency were not answered by the judge. There was a probable apprehension of bias.
The second ground was that the judge did not agree to call for an independent report from AIIMS, Safdarjung or any independent hospital. There was the third ground that the doctors of LNJP hospital advised the accused to avoid the jerky movement. The petitioner was allowed to appear before the court through video conferencing. These are the grounds of bias according to the agency.
The senior advocate Sibal had argued that there was not a single order in favour of the petitioner. They were granted full 14 days of custody to interrogate him. They had all the information even on August 6, they did not raise any objection. They raised their objection after the completion of arguments on the bail application on September 15.
The judge on July 19 said, “The court will consider their objection when I get the medical report from LNJP,” Sibal argued. If there was a bias, then why not move an application earlier? Even no objection was not mentioned in the reply to the interim bail application.
The uncommon species are ruling the country nowadays, Sibal had said during his arguments.
On the other hand, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju said, ” The accused was manipulating the jail authorities and Hospital. He was taken to RML hospital on June 13, during ED custody. There was no complaint, no headache, no corona-related effect, and his chest was clear. Till ED custody his condition was good.
He also submitted that the objection was raised before the trial court that this report is fishy and an independent report may be called from an independent hospital. The judge had said that the report is not before me let it come. It was submitted that not only the report but the entire system is false. Jail authorities were won over.
ASG also submitted that the petitioner was allowed to appear through video conferencing. When the IO went to the hospital to make arrangements for the VC, he saw that the petitioner was there without any canuela on his hand or oxygen mask on his mouth. Even his wife was also there in the hospital.
He also submitted that the jail doctor’s conduct was fishy. The conduct of the LNJP doctor was also fishy. A fake certificate was issued. He was shifted to the LNJP hospital from the jail hospital. He was a minister with a health portfolio. There was an apprehension of influence. His name was on the website and he had inaugurated many facilities there.
Earlier, the Principal District and Sessions Judge Vinay Kumar Gupta on September 23 agreed to transfer the Satyender Jain money laundering to another judge and listed the matter afresh for hearing today itself.
According to the order the case was transferred to Special Judge Vikas Dhull. Earlier it was heard in length by Special Judge Geetanjali Goel.
The ED on June 6 claimed to have seized Rs 2.85 crore in cash and 133 gold coins weighing 1.80 kg from Satyendra Jain’s aides during its day-long raid conducted at various places across Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). During these raids, the agency also seized various incriminating documents and digital records.
The ED initiated the money-laundering investigation on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 24, 2017.
The FIR was registered under Section 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Satyendar Jain, Poonam Jain, Ajit Prasad Jain, Sunil Kumar Jain, Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain.