The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail for six weeks to former Delhi Health Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Satyendar Jain, who was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Vacation Bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice P.S. Narasimha granted interim bail on medical grounds to Jain to get treated in a private hospital of his choice.
While granting bail, the Apex Court noted that it would be subject to the conditions imposed by the trial court.
The Bench directed Jain not to go to the media and refrain from making any statement on any issue. He was further asked not to attempt to influence the witnesses.
The top court of the country refused to accept the Enforcement Directorate’s objection that Jain should be independently evaluated by a panel of doctors in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. It said the same can be considered at a later stage.
The Apex Court listed the matter for further hearing on July 11, when it would also consider Jain’s latest medical reports.
Appearing for Jain, Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted that he was seeking bail only on medical grounds and not on merits at present. He further said that he had very strong grounds which he was not touching today as the same can be examined by the Supreme Court later.
Representing the Enforcement Directorate, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju contended that Jain should be examined by a body of experts from AIIMS or RML Delhi. He raised doubts about the medical certificates from the Lok Nayak Hospital Delhi, as Jain was previously the Health Minister of Delhi.
The ASG further said that since these hospitals were previously under Jain, their medical records could be fudged.
He requested the Apex Court to let the former Delhi Cabinet Minister be examined by a panel of doctors from AIIMS or Delhi, adding that if the report came in his favour, he would concede.
On Thursday, Jain was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Lok Nayak Hospital (LNJP), after his condition worsened. He was put on oxygen support in the hospital.
Earlier on April 6, the Delhi High Court had refused to grant bail to Jain on the grounds that witness statements showed that the Aam Aadmi Party leader was the ‘conceptualiser, visualiser and executor’ of the entire operation.
In his 46-page order, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma had observed that Jain was an influential person, who had the potential to tamper with evidence.
The High Court further denied bail to co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, noting that they also failed to meet the twin conditions provided under Section 45 of PMLA and the conditions laid down under Section 439 of CrPC.
Jain was arrested on May 30 last year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED had challenged the bail petition of Jain in the High Court on the grounds that charges of money laundering against him in the case were ‘crystal clear’.
ASG Raju had contended on February 15 that Jain was in the ‘thick of these things’.
He submitted that special treatment was given to the former Minister. The Prison authorities in Tihar jail were testimony to the fact that ED’s apprehension throughout was correct.
The ASG said that being a former minister of Prisons and Health, Jain was receiving favourable treatment from Jail officials, including the prison doctors.
Jain still continued to be a sitting minister in the Government of NCT Delhi and thus, was intimidating the witnesses through his incarceration, he added.
As per the ED Counsel, this was not a baseless allegation as it was corroborated with the facts borne out from the CCTV footage of Tihar jail premises submitted by ED before the PMLA Special Judge.
The national agency further raised apprehensions of Jain attempting to influence witnesses, as was borne out from the video footage, where he could be seen interacting with the co-accused on a regular basis.
The Counsel added that there was a high likelihood that the applicant once released, might seek to frustrate the proceedings under the Act.
The Counsel appearing for Jain before the High Court had submitted that no case was made out against him and that there was no requirement to continue his incarceration after the filing of the charge sheet. He further said that the former Minister had fully cooperated in the investigation.
On November 17 last year, Special CBI Judge Vikas Dhull at Rouse Avenue Court had dismissed the bail petition of Jain on the grounds that he hid the proceeds of crime.
The trial court had further denied bail to co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain, observing that the accused consciously assisted Jain in concealing the proceeds of crime and therefore, were guilty under the PMLA.
ED had submitted that during the period between 2015 and 2016, when Jain was a public servant, he owned companies ‘beneficially owned and controlled by him,’ which received accommodation entries amounting to Rs 4.81 crore from shell companies against the cash transferred to Kolkata-based entry operators through a hawala route.
Appearing for Jain before the trial court, Senior Advocate N. Hariharan had contended 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.
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.