The Bombay High Court has dismissed the bail plea filed by gangster Iqbal Mirchi’s close aide Humayun Merchant, currently lodged in Taloja Prison, for serious economic offences, bank scam & offences under the PMLA and said application for bail as of necessity has to be considered on its own merits without being influenced.
“The petitioner is a septuagenarian, presently in custody for alleged commission of offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He has challenged the decision of High Powered Committee, constituted in deference to an order of the Supreme Court dated 23rd March 2020, insofar as it excludes under-trial prisoners booked for serious economic offences, bank scams and offences under special enactments like the PMLA Act which, according to the High Powered Committee, provides for additional restrictions on grant of bail in addition to those under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The other prayer of the petitioner is for grant of interim/temporary bail,” said the Court.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta & Justice S.S. Shinde heard the plea of Merchant, through video conferencing, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on August 22, 2019 in alleged offences under the PMLA Act.
The High Court held that “We have no doubt in our mind that an administrative decision of the nature taken by the High Powered Committee for a specific purpose, i.e., to ensure decongestion in the Correctional Homes as a result of outbreak of the pandemic, can hardly be seen to have any debilitating effect on a judicial forum when it is approached by an accused under arrest to consider his prayer for bail on settled parameters.”
“Needless to observe, despite the High-Powered Committee by its decision not having conferred any benefit on him, the petitioner’s application for bail as of necessity has to be considered on its own merits without being influenced thereby,” further stated by the Court.
The Court observed that since two applications for bail are pending at the instance of the petitioner, one before the Sessions Court and the other before the High Court, Mr. Chaudhari counsel for the petitioner, statement that the application before the Sessions Court would not be pressed is recorded.
“If at all a prayer is made by the petitioner for expeditious consideration of his application for regular bail pending before this Court, the Registry shall take appropriate steps”, said the court.
The bench was confronted with the position that two applications for regular bail at the instance of the petitioner are pending before the High Court as well as the Sessions Court, Mr.Chaudhari, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioner, has not seriously pressed the aforesaid prayers. He has, however, urged that we ought to clarify, having regard to the apprehension in the mind of the petitioner, that the observations contained in the decision of the High Powered Committee, referred to above, might deflect the course of justice while the application for regular bail of the petitioner is taken up for consideration.
Read the order here;Bombay-HC-order-on-septuagenerian-plea
-India Legal Bureau