Sunday, December 4, 2022

Supreme Court imposes Rs 1 lakh cost on ED for wasting ‘precious time’ by challenging bail to cancer patient

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Coming down heavily on the Enforcement Directorate for challenging the bail granted to a cancer patient, the Supreme Court’ on Friday imposed an exemplary cost of Rs one lakh on the national agency, for wasting the Court’s precious time, stationery and legal fees.

The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice M.M. Sundresh dismissed the special leave petition (SLP) filed by ED against the Allahabad High Court order, which granted bail to respondent Kamal Ahsan, who was working as a relationship manager at Axis Bank in Prayagraj.

The High Court had granted him bail in November last year in connection with a 2013 complaint, while considering the fact that he was suffering from malignancy and cancer.

The top court of the country directed the concerned ED officer, who gave permission to file the plea, to submit the exemplary cost of Rs one lakh with the Supreme Court Registry within four weeks. 

The Bench further directed that the costs were to be divided and transferred equally to the National Legal Services Authority and the Supreme Court’s Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee.

ED had registered a case against Ahsan in 2017, after he was first granted bail for the offences of cheating, among others. He was arrested in December 2020 for offences punishable under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

ED had alleged that the accused was involved in siphoning off of Rs 22 crore through bank accounts of relatives. The money originally belonged to the State-aided Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences.

The Counsel of the respondent had submitted before the High Court that he underwent an oral cancer operation in 2019, and also suffered from diabetes and fistula.

The High Court had observed that the applicant cannot be put behind the bars for an unlimited period of time and granted him bail on certain conditions.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi directed Ahsan to cooperate with the probe, not tamper with evidence or influence witnesses, deposit his passport with the Court and not leave the country without the permission of the Court.

Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, along with Advocates Zoheb Hossain, Kanu Agarwal, Vivek Gupta, Mukesh Kumar Maroria and Nakul Chengappa K.K. appared for ED before the Apex Court.  

(Case title: Assistant Director ED vs Kamal Ahsan and anr)

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