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'Cooperated in investigation', Delhi HC grants bail to man in PMLA case

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | June 01, 2023 01:18 PM

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has granted bail to a man accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), saying that "court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the petitioner is not guilty of the offence under section 3 of the PMLA".

A single bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said, "Considering that the prosecution complaint has been filed before the learned trial court; that the petitioner has materially co-operated in the investigation; and in view of the nature of the alleged role played by the petitioner in the allegedly offending transactions, this court is also satisfied that the petitioner is not likely to commit any offence under PMLA while on bail."

The bail application was filed by Ramesh Manglani, who was represented by senior advocate Siddharth Aggarwal and advocate Arjun Dewan. The plea was filed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 read with Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), seeking regular bail in proceedings arising from ECIR registered in September 2020 by ED under Sections 3 and 4 of the PMLA.

It was alleged that the accused persons had siphoned-off an amount of Rs 18.88 crore from one M/s. Ligare Aviation Limited (Ligare Aviation) in 2014-15 on the basis of fake/fictitious invoices.

The complainant company is stated to be aggrieved since it is an indirect shareholder in Ligare Aviation, and that the complainant company statedly holds 50 per cent shares in RHC Holding Pvt. Ltd., which in turn holds a 30 per cent stake in Ligare Aviation. Further, RHC Holding Pvt. Ltd. also holds 67.27 per cent in RHC Finance Pvt. Ltd., which in turn holds the rest 70 per cent in Ligare Aviation.

The petitioner, who is admittedly a resident of Dubai, arrived in India in April 2022, when he was intimated by the immigration authorities about a look-out-circular issued against him. The petitioner was summonsed by the ED on April 5, 2022, to join the investigation and he was arrested by the investigating agency on August 3, 2022, from his residence in Mumbai. The trial court had dismissed his bail plea on August 31, 2022, and he moved the high court challenging this order.

The high court noted that insofar as the ED not having arrested similarly placed co-accused persons; and not even having arraigned some other persons evidently connected with the offending transactions as accused in the prosecution complaint, though these aspects would not be dispositive of a bail plea one way or the other, they are also not wholly irrelevant and the 'doctrine of parity' is not immaterial.

The high court said it is of the view that the petitioner deserves to be granted relief; and is hereby admitted to regular bail pending trial and imposed a slew of conditions.

The court directed petitioner to furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs 25 Lakh with one surety in the like amount from a family member, to the satisfaction of the trial court.

"The petitioner shall furnish to the Investigating Officer/S.H.O. a cell-phone number on which the petitioner may be contacted at any time and shall ensure that the number is kept active and switched-on at all times. The petitioner shall surrender his passport(s) to the learned trial court and shall not travel out of India without prior permission of the learned trial court," said the high court in its order on May 30.

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