Two promoters of Omkar Group who are accused of money laundering got an immediate interim release from custody on Monday after they claimed their custody is illegal citing the recent SC judgment in which the top court has held that when a scheduled offence or criminal case against a person does not stand due to an acquittal or discharge order, there can be no action of money laundering based on the offence on the person.
A special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) released Babulal Varma and Kamal Kishore Gupta on a provisional cash bail of Rs. 5 lakhs each. They are accused of diversion of funds of Rs. 410 crores disbursed by Yes Bank along with co-accused.
On Monday, their advocates Vijay Aggarwal along with Rahul Agarwal had filed an application seeking they both be released immediately in light of the apex court’s ruling. Their plea informed the court that an Aurangabad court had accepted the closure report filed by the police in the case and that the informant had given a no-objection for the same stating that the complaint was lodged due to a misunderstanding. The accused’s plea stated that their custody cannot be extended by the court anymore as the money laundering case against them does not stand in light of the apex court’s ruling. It was argued that even a second or a minute of extended custody would amount to illegal detention.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had sought time to respond to the plea. Special judge MG Deshpande said in the order that it cannot be ignored that there is a prayer for interim relief, which cannot be ignored as the question of their custody, being legal or illegal, is on the anvil.
The court noted that the accused were arrested on Jan 27 last year and have since been in judicial custody. It pointed out that the ED has not begun trial in the case stating that the probe is on and since one and a half years they are in jail. It called the recent guidelines of the SC very important and that there is an elaborate discussion on the fate of a PMLA case in the absence of a scheduled offence. The special court said it has no jurisdiction to extend the custody of the accused when there is no scheduled offence.
The court has given the ED time till Wednesday to oppose the plea of the accused, but granted interim relief to them till its decision on their plea, stating that true spirit of the guidelines of the SC cannot be ignored.