In a setback to Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed his habeas corpus (produce the person in court) petition challenging his “illegal arrest” by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in an alleged money laundering case related to a loan fraud of ₹538 crore at the Canara Bank.
The court noted that both the remand orders were “absolutely mechanical or suffer from the vice of lack of jurisdiction”.
Dismissing his petition, a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse said: “We are of the view that the petition seeking writ of habeas corpus, in the facts, cannot be entertained and as such, dismiss the petition.”
The bench, however, said it was open for Goyal to “avail other statutory remedies as permissible in law to him”.
Goyal had filed a habeas corpus petition immediately after his arrest claiming that he was illegally arrested by the ED in the case. He contended that he was arrested by the central agency without following provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Goyal challenges orders of a special court
The Jet Airways founder also challenged orders of a special court, first remanding him to ED’s custody and then sending him to judicial custody, saying that the orders were passed in a mechanical manner.
Goyal was arrested on September 1 and produced before a special court which remanded him to the agency's custody till September 14. On September 14, he was remanded to judicial custody for two weeks.
Disagreeing with the arguments, the HC noted: “it cannot be said that the remand orders are absolutely mechanical or suffer from the vice of lack of jurisdiction, warranting our interference in this writ petition, which seeks a writ of habeas corpus.”
The judges said that both the remand orders are “detailed reasoned remand orders”.
Goyals counsel Amit Desai had argued that he was not produced before a competent court for over 24 hours after detention
Goyal was arrested after following due process of law: ED
ED had opposed the plea stating that Goyal was arrested after following due process of law as he was not cooperating and was being evasive.
ED counsel Hiten Venegaonkar had opposed the plea contending that Goyal could challenge the remand orders before appropriate court. Also, he said that Goyal never argued before the remand court that he was detained for over 24 hours.
The court, however, noted that these arguments were not advanced before the trial court when he was first produced for remand.
“The case in hand, does not fall under any exception, and consequently, the relief as sought for cannot be granted,” the bench added.
The judges further added: “… there is no merit in the petitioner's submission, that he ought to have been furnished with a physical copy of the grounds of arrest. The petitioner was not orally read out the grounds of arrest but was served a copy of the grounds of arrest which he acknowledged by signing thereon.”
Goyal is currently in judicial custody and lodged at the Arthur Road jail.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered had registered an FIR in May 3 following a complaint by the Canara Bank alleging offences of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by Jet Airways (India) Lt and Goyal in connivance with other accused to siphon of bank funds to the tune of ₹538 crores.
The ED registered its case based on the CBI FIR. The ED case involves a large number of banking transactions with high value cash withdrawals from funds related to loans obtained by the accused.