'Person Can't Be Detained Merely Because Of Non-Cooperation': Bombay High Court

'Person Can't Be Detained Merely Because Of Non-Cooperation': Bombay High Court

The HC quashed a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against a man by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in a 2019 money laundering case related to late drug smuggler Iqbal Memon alias Iqbal Mirchi.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 12:45 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has said that a person cannot be detained merely because he is not allegedly cooperating, since the non-cooperation can be a result of a person not having any information with respect to the case in question. The HC quashed a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against a man by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in a 2019 money laundering case related to late drug smuggler Iqbal Memon alias Iqbal Mirchi.

The HC was hearing a petition by Sanjay Kumar Agrawal challenging the LOC issued against him by the ED in January 2021. Agrawal said he has been working in Bahrain and Dubai since 1995 and now because of the LOC was detained in India without a job. His plea contended that he was summoned by the ED in the year 2020 for questioning, but till now has not been arraigned as an accused in the case.

The court noted that the ED has been probing the case since 2019 and has not found any material against him. Hence, it would not be appropriate to detain him any further, HC said.

“The petitioner (Agrawal) has been deprived of his livelihood since December 2020. He has been working in the Middle East for more than two decades,” a bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande said in its judgment of April 17, a copy of which was made available on Tuesday.

ED opposed Agrawal’s plea contending that while he had not been named as an accused in the case, he was not cooperating with the probe.

Refusing to accept the argument, the HC said, “A person cannot be detained merely because he is not co-operating. Non-cooperation also can be a result of a person not having any information with respect to the case in question.”

Agrawal has been working in Bahrain since 1995 and in 2012 joined the Imperial Suites Hotel (allegedly owned by Mirchi) as a Group Financial Controller. He claimed he was unaware of the hotel’s owner but used to receive instructions from one Asif Memon and Junaid Memon (Mirchi’s sons).

He has claimed that he had no knowledge about the personal dealings of Iqbal Memon or any of his family members and that he has never met or spoken with Mirchi. The ED had launched a probe in August 2019 into the financial assets and dealings of Mirchi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Mirchi died in London in 2013.

Agrawal received summons from the ED in July 2022 pursuant to which he appeared before the agency for questioning seven times. In January 2021, LOC was issued against Agrawal at ED’s behest. Agrawal has claimed that due to the LOC, he is unable to return to Bahrain and Dubai and has lost his job.

The court quashed the LOC and directed Agrawal to appear before the ED as and when summoned and to also provide the agency his residential and contact details.

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