New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Saturday dismissed a plea by minister Satyendar Jain challenging a lower court order to transfer the money laundering case against him to another court.
Justice Yogesh Khanna said “all facts were duly considered by the Principal District and Sessions Judge while transferring the case, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and it cannot be held that the decision suffered from any illegality or needed interference”.
The judge noted that in view of certain circumstances, the ED had an apprehension that justice may not be done and was of the opnion that such an apprehension was to be seen from the the party’s point of view and not that of the judge. “The question is not of integrity or uprightness of the judge but is of an apprehension in the mind of a party,” it said.
The court also said “the apprehensions raised by the agency were not at a “belated stage” and “the facts show that the department did not merely harbour such apprehension but rather had acted upon it by rushing to this court (at an earlier occasion) … hence it cannot be said to be flimsy or not reasonable”.
“The petition is, therefore, dismissed,” the court said in its order.
Jain had moved the high court last month challenging the September 23 order of Principal District and Sessions Judge Vinay Kumar Gupta transferring the money laundering case to Special Judge Vikas Dhull from Special Judge Geetanjali Goel, who was hearing his bail plea.
The district judge’s order was passed on an application for transfer moved by the investigating agency. The agency, in its transfer application before the district judge, had argued that while there was no complaint against the judge hearing the matter, it was “a case of probable bias” in favour of the Delhi minister and there was an apprehension that it might not get an independent and impartial hearing.
The AAP leader argued before the high court that the ED cannot be allowed to “brow beat” a judge and seek transfer of the money laundering case citing “bias” without any basis.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Jain, contended that not interfering with the ED’s conduct would bring anarchy and asserted that “bias suddenly dawned” on the agency after the special court judge “did not agree” at that stage with its request for constituting an independent board for Jain’s medical examination.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the ED, argued that the district court order warrants no interference as in spite of “sufficiently demonstrating” that the jail officials as well as doctors of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital were “managed” and were assisting the minister in “feigning” sickness for the purpose of granting interim bail, and the special judge “looked the other way”.
He, however, clarified that the agency was not casting any aspersions on the judge as it was “nobody’s case that bias has been proved”.
The senior lawyer stated the transfer was sought after a “cumulative assessment” and justice should not only be done but also seem to have been done.
The ED had arrested Jain and two others in the money laundering case based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR lodged against the AAP leader in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Jain is accused of having laundered money through four companies linked to him.