Supreme Court grants bail to the accused for economic offences under PMLA on having served 50% of his sentence

Supreme Court: Exercising their criminal writ jurisdiction, the full bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Manoj Misra and Aravind Kumar J.J., granted interim bail to the petitioner while noting that the petitioner had almost served 50% of the sentence, the wife had passed away as a consequence of cancer and there was a child from the marriage.

In the matter at hand, the petitioner had challenged the impugned order passed by the High Court of Odisha dismissing the bail application preferred by him based on the law relating to strictness for grant of bail in economic offences. The sole ground to deny the bail was the fact that the petitioner may misuse the liberty of bail since he was a resident of New Delhi, thus the chances of the petitioner fleeing from Odisha were high and in turn may have adverse effect on the Trial before the Sessions Judge.

The petitioner had contended that on account of his wife’s death, he was released on interim bail and had duly complied with all the conditions and had timely surrendered himself. The petitioner had also mentioned the fact that the two main accused in the case were enlarged on bail three years ago who were residents of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Thus, the High Court had erred into denying him bail on the ground that he may misuse his liberty.

The Petitioner had relied upon Siddharth v. State of UP, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 615 and contended that he was arrested under Section 50 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (‘PMLA’) without any notice after 2.5 years of filing the chargesheet.

The Petitioner pointed out to the fact that since supplementary chargesheet had also been filed, it indicated that the investigation was complete, therefore, the Petitioner could not be denied bail on the ground that the Trial was not complete and the arguments of ‘flight risk’ and ‘tampering of evidence’ could not be sustained.

The Supreme Court considering the facts and circumstances of the case, accordingly, enlarged the petitioner on interim bail on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.

[Mohammad Arif v. Enforcement Directorate, Special Leave Petition (Criminal) 5709 of 2022, decided on 13-02-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For the petitioner- Advocate on Record Gautam Awasthi, Advocate Ranjana Roy Gawai, Advocate Vasudha Sen, Advocate Malak Bhatt, Advocate Shambhavi Kashyap, Advocate on Record Divya Roy, Senior Advocate R. Basant, Advocate on Record Swarnendu Chatterjee, Advocate Himanshu Nailwal, Advocate Vishnu, Advocate Yashvardhan Singh, Advocate Deepakshi Garg and Advocate Megha Saha;

For the respondent- Advocate on Record Arvind Kumar Sharma, Advocate Padmesh Mishra, Advocate Tanya Aggarwal, Advocate on Record Mukesh Kumar Maroria, Advocate Sairica Raju, Advocate Annam Venkatesh, Advocate Rupesh Kumar, Advocate Anshuman Singh, Advocate Mr. Arkaj Kumar and Advocate Mr. Dharma Datta Verma.

*Simran Singh, Editorial Assistant summated the data.

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