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Why not arresting Virbhadra Singh in money laundering case: HC asks ED

The judge said if ED was not withdrawing the plea, then the court will dismiss it

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the (ED) why it was not arresting former Chief Minister in connection with a multi-crore money laundering case, when the agency was opposing bail granted to a businessman in the matter.

Questioning the "selective approach" of the agency in arresting those involved in the case, Justice R K Gauba asked the ED whether it will withdraw its plea challenging bail granted to Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, the director/ promoter of Tarini Group of Companies, or should the court pass an order.

In the first half of the day, the court asked ED's lawyers to take instructions from the agency on the issue of arresting the senior Congress leader.

Later, agency's counsel Amit Mahajan and Nitesh Rana told the court that the officer investigating the matter was not senior enough to "take a call" on the issue of arresting Singh at the moment and sought more time to take a decision.

The lawyers also sought more time to take instruction from ED on whether to press for their plea challenging Chandrasekhar's bail or withdraw it.

The judge said if ED was not withdrawing the plea, then the court will dismiss it.

Thereafter, the lawyers told the court that the ED has decided to withdraw the petition, and it was dismissed as withdrawn.

Chandrasekhar was granted bail by a trial court in March 9, noting that no purpose would be served by keeping him in further custody.

The ED had earlier argued that it was a case of economic offence which has to be kept at a higher pedestal and the allegation against the accused were of serious nature.

It had contended that Chandrasekhar had helped in laundering crores of rupees and its investigation was still in progress.

Chandrasekhar was arrested on February 15 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was in judicial custody before getting bail.

The ED had alleged that Chandrasekhar "had provided an amount of Rs 5.9 crore to Singh and his family members through his three personal bank accounts".

It had claimed that when the source of funds was enquired into, it came to light that the amount was received through a web of firms indulging in accommodation entry operations.

The trial court had on February 12 summoned Singh, his wife and three others as accused in the case, after taking cognisance of the ED charge sheet against them and others, saying there was "prima facie" enough evidence against the accused persons.

The ED, in its charge sheet, named 83-year-old Singh, accusing him of projecting around Rs 7 crore "proceeds of crime" as agricultural income in connivance with his wife and others and invested them in purchasing LIC policies.

Besides Singh and his 62-year-old wife Pratibha Singh, the trial court had summoned Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan and two other co-accused, Prem Raj and Lawan Kumar Roach.

The final report also named as accused Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent Anand Chauhan, against whom a charge sheet was earlier filed by the agency.

All six have been named in the charge sheet under relevant provisions of the PMLA. A disproportionate assets case, lodged by CBI, is also going on against Singh and others.

First Published: Fri, November 02 2018. 19:10 IST
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