Allahabad High Court grants anticipatory bail to Syed Ishrat Hussain Jafri in state scholarship scam

The Allahabad High Court has granted anticipatory bail to Syed Ishrat Hussain Jafri, the Vice President of the Hygia Educational Group on medical grounds, who is an accused in the Rs 500 crore state scholarship scam.

A Single Bench of Justice Subhash Vidyarthi passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Anticipatory Bail Application filed by Syed Ishrat Hussain Jafri.

The application has been filed after rejection of his anticipatory bail vide order dated 17.05.2023, passed by the Special Judge,Anti-Corruption, C.B.I (West), Lucknow/Special Court PMLA, Lucknow Anticipatory Bail Application, seeking anticipatory bail in case under Sections 3 and 4 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, Police Station Directorate of Enforcement, Allahabad Sub-Zonal Office, Allahabad.

On 16.02.2023, the officials of Enforcement Directorate, Sub Zonal Office, Allahabad raided as many as ten educational institutions, including Hygia Institute of Pharmacy, run and managed by Orgeom Educational Society, of which the applicant is Vice Chairman.

It is alleged that 956 dollars were recovered during search from the premises of the applicant which were seized by the officials and no other recovery or seizure was made.

Regarding the dollars found in the premises of the applicant, the applicant's claim is that the dollars belong to his sister who resides in the U.S.A and is a United States Citizen and who was visiting the applicant's home at the relevant time.

At the time of the aforesaid raid conducted by the officials of Enforcement Directorate, no F.I.R of any predicate offence had been registered against the applicant. It was only after the the Enforcement Directorate had submitted a report to the police under Section 66 (2) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, that an F.I.R bearing Case under Sections 120-B, 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 I.P.C was registered at Police Station Hazratganj, District Lucknow.

It has been stated in the affidavit filed in support of the anticipatory bail application that the applicant is suffering from various diseases and he has undergone nephrectomy of both kidneys, he has undergone a kidney transplant at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, brain surgery and craniotomy and he is on immuno suppressant medicines due to the aforesaid reasons.

It is the case of the applicant that he was taken into custody at Allahabad by the officials of Enforcement Directorate on 21.04.2023 and while he was being brought to Lucknow, his physical condition deteriorated while he was on the way and he had to be taken to NTPC Hospital, Unchahar, where he was advised some medicines and he was referred to higher center for further management.

The applicant was thereafter admitted in Apollo Medics Super Specialty Hospital at Lucknow on 25.04.2023, from where he was discharged on 26.04.2023 with diagnosis of cholelithiasis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, polycystic liver disease, suspected cyst, hemorrhage/infection, poly-cystic kidney disease, post bilateral nephrectomy and renal transplant.

The discharge summary records that the applicant requires further observation but he himself wished to discontinue the treatment and wanted to be discharged.

Counsel for the applicant has submitted that the reason for this conduct of the applicant was an apprehension of arrest by the officials of the Enforcement Directorate and had he stayed in the hospital, he would certainly have been arrested.

Counsel for the applicant has submitted that presently the applicant is under treatment of Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

In view of the aforesaid factual background, S.C Mishra, Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the applicant has submitted that keeping in view the aforesaid ailments of the applicant his case falls within the proviso appended to Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and therefore rigors of Section 45 will not apply to the case.

Rohit Tripathi, counsel for the respondent/Enforcement Directorate has vehemently opposed the prayer for grant of interim anticipatory bail and submitted that the applicant is guilty of siphoning off a huge sum which was meant for being paid as scholarship to the students.

He has submitted that the investigation of the case is still going on and grant of any protection to the applicant at this stage is likely to jeopardize the investigation.

Tripathi has further submitted that as the applicant has himself declined to accept the advice of the doctors at NTPC Hospital, Unchahar to take the prescribed medicines and he has himself declined to continue treatment at Apollo Medics Hospital, Lucknow, his medical condition does not appear to be so serious as warrants protection from the rigors of Section 45 of the PMLA to the applicant.

"Having considered the facts and circumstances of the case, what prima facie appears from the material placed before the court at this stage is that both the kidneys of the applicant have been removed and he is reported to have undergone kidney transplant which generally requires administering immuno suppressant medicines. The applicant had undergone brain surgery, he is suffering from type 2 diabetes, poly-cystic liver disease, poly-cystic kidney disease etc which fact is seriously disputed by Rohit Tripathi, counsel for the respondent", the Court observed.

The court has not got the requisite expertise to assess the exact medical condition of the applicant and in view of the serious objection raised by Tripathi, the Court finds it appropriate to get the applicant medically examined by a Board of Experts constituted by the Director of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow at the expenses of the applicant himself.

The Court requested the Director, SGPGI to constitute a Board consisting of suitable experts of the relevant fields as per the medical papers submitted by the applicant and get him examined and submit a report regarding his medical condition to the court within three weeks, through the Senior Registrar of the Court.

In view of above, the Court is of the view that the applicant is entitled to be granted interim anticipatory bail.

Therefore, the Court directed that in the event of arrest/ appearance of applicant (Syed Ishrat Hussain Jafri) before the Trial Court till the next date of listing in the aforesaid case, he shall be released on interim anticipatory bail in the aforesaid case crime on his furnishing a personal bail bond and two sureties to the satisfaction of the Trial Court/S.H.O on the following conditions and subject to any other conditions that may be fixed by the Trial Court:-

(i) that the applicant shall appear before the Investigating Officer/ trial court on each date fixed unless his personal presence is exempted;

(ii) that the applicant shall not, directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the court or to any officer or tamper with the evidence;

(iii) that the applicant shall not leave India without the previous permission of the court and he will furnish his current residential address, mobile number and e-mail address to the Investigating Officer within three days from today;

(iv) that the applicant shall not pressurize/ intimidate the prosecution witness.