Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Unitech money laundering probe: SC says it has lost faith in Tihar Jail, orders moving convicts to Mumbai jail

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The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the transfer of Unitech Promoters Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra separately from Tihar jail to Arthur Road jail and Taloja Central jail and no special treatment be given other than provided in the Jail Manual.

The aforesaid order was passed by the Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, while placing reliance on one of the two letters circulated by ASG Madhvi Divan appearing on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with respect to the conduct of Unitech Promoters Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra under judicial custody within the premises of Tihar Jail.

The bench deplored the conduct of Tihar Jail Superintendent and other jail authorities when they observed that the jail staff were working in connivance with the two accused to let them freely communicate and instruct their officials and disposing off their properties from inside the jail. 

The bench further observed that the conduct of Tihar Jail authority was absolutely shameless and the court has lost faith in Tihar Jail. The bench observed that the two accused are engaging in illegal activities by flouting the jail manual, making efforts to dissipate the crime and attempting to derail the investigation. Ergo, the bench directed the Commissioner of Police to immediately investigate the said matter personally without delegating the work so that the officers involved are held accountable. The bench further pressed ED to expeditiously sum up the investigation.

ASG Madhavi Diwan while placing reliance on the letter circulated, stated that the same was developed when ED found one underground office, which was being operated by erstwhile Unitech founder Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra when on parole or bail. She further stated that they have seized hundreds of digital signatures and several computers, which contain sensitive data pertaining to properties in India and abroad, if the accused are not stopped the properties will be disposed of in no time.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for accused Sanjay Chandra, vehemently opposed the aforesaid investigation and stated that there is no shocking revelation by the ED, the said secret underground office was listed on the website of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, and furthermore not even till date we know what has been found against the accused. The accused are not like Amrapali directors who would flee away, up till now they have developed and delivered more than 1 lakh flats and are willing to do the same, if the opportunity is given.

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The bench in reply stated that the company has been handed over to the new board and it is too late to make such a request.  

Sanjay Chandra, promoter and director of India’s second largest real estate investment company, was arrested by the Economic Offenses Wing (EoW) of Delhi Police on March 31, 2017 on charges of financial irregularities under Sections 420, 406 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. Chandra was then put in jail for cheating and fraud cases in relation to non-delivery of houses and diversion of money. There are allegations against him that he was wrongly investing one project’s funds in another project.

The ED initiated its money laundering investigation on the basis of various FIRs filed by homebuyers against Unitech Group and its promoters.

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