Monday, December 5, 2022

Paying price for being a Minister: Satyendar Jain seeks bail in PMLA case

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AAP leader Satyendar Jain on Friday told a court in the national capital that he was paying the price of joining public life and that if he had not been a Minister, no case would have been registered against him. 

Special Judge Vikas Dhull at Rouse Avenue Court today heard the arguments made by Jain’s Counsel, Senior Advocate N Hariharan, seeking bail in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Hariharan said that Jain’s only fault was that he became a Minister and joined public life. Apart from this, there was nothing in the case, which could be attributed to the AAP leader.

Earlier, Special Judge Geetanjli Goel was hearing the submissions in Jain’s bail plea and while the matter was in its final leg, ED sought transfer of the matter alleging bias on part of the judge.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a case against Jain under Sections 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant) read with 13(e) (disproportionate assets) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

CBI alleged that Jain had acquired movable properties in the name of various persons between 2015 and 2017, which he could not satisfactorily account for.

The AAP leader was subsequently arrested on April 5 by the ED on the basis of its investigation into the money laundering aspect under PMLA.

ED had also attached immovable properties worth Rs 4.81 crore belonging to M/s Akinchan Developers Pvt Ltd, M/s Indo Metal Impex Pvt Ltd, M/s Paryas Infosolutions Pvt Ltd, M/s Manglayatan Projects Pvt Ltd, M/s JJ Ideal Estate Pvt Ltd, and other persons under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The enforcement agency alleged that these companies, which were ‘beneficially-owned and controlled’ by Jain, had received accommodation entries amounting to Rs 4.81 crore from shell companies against cash transferred to Kolkata-based entry operators through a hawala route.

Jain’s Counsel denied the claim, arguing that he was nowhere related to the dealings of the companies, as he was only a ‘minority’ shareholder in them. He further said that a minority shareholder could not exercise control over the companies.

As per Hariharan, a director was only an agent of the company. He said the shareholding pattern of the companies showed that even in the best possible scenario, ED could only attribute a sum of Rs 59 lakh to Jain, adding that the notional value being attributed to Jain was an ‘exercise alien to law’, 

Referring to the amended proviso in Section 45 of the PMLA after the recent verdict in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary vs Union of India, Hariharan contended that even if one added Rs six lakh as per shareholding of one more company named in the case, the total notional value, as per their own case, would still be less than Rs one crore.

Therefore, it would fall within the proviso of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), he added.

Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing the ED, will make submissions on November 5, as the defence’s arguments concluded today.

(Case title: Satyendar Jain vs ED)

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