The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Friday that the application by two accused in a money laundering case which claimed that the extension of their judicial custody would amount to 'illegal custody in the light of a recent SC ruling is 'absolutely bad in law'. The court had granted them interim release from custody based on this plea.
Last month, the SC had held in a judgment that when a scheduled offence or criminal case against an accused does not stand, owing to an acquittal or discharge of the accused in it, the accused cannot be tried for money laundering if the offence is registered based on the former. Omkar group's promoters Babulal Varma and Kamalkishore Gupta who had been in custody since Jan last year in a money laundering case registered on the basis of a cheating case lodged in Aurangabad, had claimed relief based on this ruling. The Aurangabad case had been closed. In a plea filed on Monday through their advocates Vijay Aggarwal and Rahul Agarwal, the duo had claimed immediate release based on the apex court's ruling citing the closure of the case agains them. The court had granted an interim release relying on the SC ruling. The ED had sought time to respond to their plea.
On Friday, the special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was hearing the plea to make its final decision. The ED's prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar argued that the criminal manual of the Bombay HC does not permit the accused to make such an application during the present stage of extension of judicial custody. He called the application 'absolutely bad in law' and 'not maintainable'.
He further pointed out that the special court had passed an order in Feb last year, which had been challenged and is now pending in the apex court. It was contended that since the issue was pending before the top court, whether the special court can decide it. It can be raised only before the SC, it the prosecutor submitted. The hearing will continue next week.