New Delhi: Controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi was today granted bail in a money laundering case by a special court, which said he cannot be punished by keeping him incarcerated before his conviction.
Noting that the allegations against Qureshi were serious, Special judge Arun Bharadwaj put several conditions while granting the relief on a personal bond and a surety of Rs two lakh each. The court directed the accused to deposit his passport, not to leave the country without its prior permission and not to influence the witnesses in the case.
In a 20-page order, the court said the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the case, availed full opportunity to unearth the offence of money laundering allegedly committed by Qureshi and from time to time and his custody was given to the ED to the maximum extent permissible under the law.
“Now the complaint has been filed. Statements of the prosecution witnesses have been recorded… The required documents necessary for prosecuting the applicant have been gathered during investigation,” it said.
It also noted that Qureshi had cooperated with the probe prior to his arrest and there was no allegation that he tried to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence.
“There is no doubt that the allegations against the applicant are serious in as much as he was working to interfere with the process of law by assuring help in CBI prosecution.
“However, that will be a consideration for imposing severest possible sentence after conclusion of trial if he is found guilty but for that reason he cannot be punished by keeping him incarcerated before his conviction,” it said.
It also noted that in the CBI case, on the basis of which the current ED case was registered, the accused has not yet been arrested even after lapse of around ten months from the registration of the case.
“The applicant is entitled to be enlarged on bail but keeping in mind that ED is still investigating further in the matter and it has to be ensured that the evidence is not tampered by him and keeping in mind the apprehensions of the ED that if he is enlarged on bail, he may influence the witnesses, the applicant is admitted to bail…subject to certain conditions,” it said.
Special public prosecutor N K Matta, appearing for ED had earlier this month, had opposed the bail plea of Qureshi, saying he could hamper the ongoing investigation. Matta had alleged that Qureshi, who was arrested on August 25 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), should not be granted the relief as the allegations levelled against him were grave and there were chances that he may flee from justice if granted bail.
In his bail application, the accused had told the court that no purpose would be served by keeping him in further custody. He had said that the probe in the case was over and he was not required further by the ED.
The ED had earlier alleged in the court that “the witnesses have confirmed in their statements that they have delivered crores of rupees for Qureshi and his associates through his employees….”
The agency had also alleged that Qureshi was involved in hawala transactions through Delhi-based hawala operators Parvez Ali of Turkman Gate and M/s South Delhi Money Changer (DAMINI) in Greater Kailash-1.