Read Order: Lalit Goyal v. Directorate of Enforcement and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, April 11, 2022: While dealing with a petition seeking grant of regular bail to a 55 year old, accused of committing offence under Sections 3 and 4 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (‘PMLA’) and of allegedly being a beneficiary of overseas trust which were owning and controlling six overseas companies without disclosing the details of the same, the Punjab and Haryana High Court made absolute, the order of interim bail granted to such accused on medical grounds. 

The petitioner was reportedly admitted in Sub Divisional Hospital, Ambala Cantt with raised BP and chief complaints of Anxiety, Palpitations, Shortness of Breath, Insomnia, Backache, Retrosternal Burning and Pain Epigastrium. 

The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan held, while agreeing with the submission advanced by the petitioner’s counsel that the case of the petitioner would be covered under proviso to Section 45(i) of PMLA as he was a sick person requiring urgent medical treatment, especially in view of the fact that while in custody for a period of about 03 months, he was repeatedly advised medical care, as noticed in earlier part of this order.

The prayer in this instant petition filed before the High Court was for the grant of regular bail to the petitioner in PMLA Case registered under Sections 3 & 4 of the PMLA arising out of an FIR registered under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC. The Bail was sought on the ground of the petitioner’s health conditions, which suggested his permanent multiple ailments requiring continuous treatment from specialized doctors. 

In 2004-2005, six companies were incorporated and the petitioner was one of the Directors from 2009-2012 after which he resigned. From 2018 to 2021, a total of 13 FIRs were registered by allottees of the projects undertaken by two of these companies with the allegations that there was a delay in completing the projects and handing over the possession. 

In 2021, a formal complaint was filed by the Directorate of Enforcement against the petitioner and six companies under Sections 44 & 45 of PMLA for commission of offence as defined under Section 3 read with Section 70 punishable under Section 4 of PMLA. It was alleged that the petitioner was a beneficiary of overseas trust, which were owning and controlling the overseas companies, however, he was evading details of the same.

The petitioner was in judicial custody for three months and thereafter, he was granted interim bail on medical grounds as he was admitted to Sub Divisional Hospital, Ambala Cantt with raised BP and chief complaints of Anxiety, Palpitations, Shortness of Breath, Insomnia, Backache, Retrosternal Burning and Pain Epigastrium. 

This protection of interim bail was extended owing to the continuation of the treatment which the petitioner was undergoing. The Court while extending this interim protection, directed the petitioner to appear before the Civil Surgeon, Ambala, who was directed to constitute a Medical Board of seven doctors and submit a report regarding medical health condition of the petitioner. 

The petitioner’s course argued that prior to the date, when he was granted interim bail on medical grounds, the petitioner already undergone about 3 months of judicial custody, therefore, considering his health condition, he advanced a case for making the interim bail absolute, as under Section 45 (i) of PMLA, it is provided that if a person, who is under age of 16 years or a woman or his sick or infirm, may be released on bail, if the Court so directs.

It was also submitted that the petitioner continuously needed medical attention, therefore, interim bail granted to him may be confirmed, as there was no allegation either by the ED that the petitioner tried to misuse the concession in the intervening period in any manner. 

On the contrary, Mr. S. V. Raju, Addl. Solicitor General of India argued that the petitioner did not meet the requirement of twin conditions under Section 45 of PMLA and the matter is subjudice before the Supreme Court, whether after amendment, the said provisions stands revived or not, however, he could not dispute that Medical Board consisting of seven doctors opined about health condition of the petitioner, vide which he was granted the interim bail on medical grounds as per proviso to Section 45 (i) of PMLA. 

It was further submitted that granting of regular bail to the petitioner will involve the risk of fleeing from justice, as on an earlier occasion, a lookout notice was issued against the petitioner, when he was trying to travel abroad and the petitioner may try to tamper with the evidence or influence the prosecution witnesses.

After hearing counsel for the parties and going through the medical record of the petitioner (based on a report of Medical Board comprising of seven doctors), the Court found that the the petitioner would be covered under proviso to Section 45(i) of PMLA as he is a sick person requiring urgent medical treatment, especially in view of the fact that while in custody for a period of about 03 months, he was repeatedly advised medical care.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the order granting interim bail to the petitioner was made absolute. 

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