Delhi Court Grants Bail To Accused Businessman Anoop Kumar Gupta

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Joint Managing Director of the company KRBL Limited was accused by the Enforcement Directorate with regard to offences involving money laundering.
  • The ED had taken the businessman inti custody on the 29th of January for lacking cooperation in the probe of the Investigating Authority in the Agusta Westland International Ltd. VVIP chopper scam.
  • The businessman applied for bail and was granted the same after being in custody for more than 60 days.
  • Such bail was granted by Special Judge Arvind Kumar in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Monday, the 5th of April, 2021.

INTRODUCTION

The businessman Anoop Kumar Gupta was granted bail by Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court in connection to the alleged VVIP chopper scam which approximately amounted to Rs. 3600 crores. He had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on the 29th of January, 2021 and had been in custody ever since then.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted such relief to the accused businessman, who was “admitted to bail on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs. 5 Lac with two sureties of the like amount with further conditions that :-

1. The accused shall not tamper with evidence.

2. The accused shall not try to contact or influence the witnesses.

3. The accused shall join investigation as and when called by the IO.

4. The accused shall not leave India without the permission of the Court.

5. The accused shall furnish his mobile numbers and e-mail IDs used by him to the investigating Officer. He shall also inform the change in mobile numbers and e-mail IDs, if any, to the IO.”

BACKGROUND

A contract for the supply of 12 VVIP/non VVIP helicopters was awarded to M/s Agusta Westland International Ltd., the British subsidiary of the Italy-based company, Finmeccanica, which amounted to Euro 556.262 million, approximately 3726.96 Crores INR, and the Ministry of Defence, Government of India and M/s Agusta Westland International Ltd executed the agreement to such effect 08.02.2010. Such deal was scrapped in the year 2014.

The proceeds of crime of money laundering was approximately Euro 24.37 Million, out of which Euro 12.4 Million was “received in M/s Interstellar Technologies Ltd., which was further transferred to various companies including M/s Rawasi Al Khaleej General Trading LLC Dubai, M/s Carisma Investments Limited Mauritius, M/s Palmira
Consulting Services Limited, M/s Windsor Group Holdings Limited BVI, M/s Capital Infrastructure Limited, Mauritius etc. M/s Rawasi Al Khaleej General Trading LLC, Dubai (RAKGT) was incorporated in 2007 by M/s KRBL DMCC, Dubai.”

Directors of KRBL DMCC are Anoop Gupta, Anil Kumar Mittal and Arun Kumar Gupta. “M/s KRBL DMCC itself was incorporated in 2006 as 100% subsidiary of M/s KRBL Limited, India. M/s KRBL Limited is a prominent player in the Basmati Rice Industry in both domestic and overseas markets. Anoop Gupta is the Joint Managing Director of KRBL Limited.”

The Joint MD of the company was arrested by ED after his refusal to cooperate in the probe after the contract was scrapped by India in 2014 due to allegations of irregularities in performance of the contract.

CONTENTION OF THE COUNSEL OF THE ACCUSED

The Learned Counsels for the accused Anoop Kumar Gupta, Shri Shadman Ahmed Siddiqui and Shri. Shubham Prajapati brought to the attention of the Court the medical conditions of the accused who required immediate medical attention.

The counsels notified the Court of the cooperation of the accused with respect to every summon issued by the ED and produced any and every document as and when required on the orders of the ED. Thus, the custody of the accused, who has already been in custody for about 60 days, is in no way going to prove to be more beneficial to the investigation than if he were to be released from custody on bail.

They also submitted that all the evidences are documentary in nature and the allegations made against the accused have to be tested during the trial, which might take years to be concluded, which makes the accused to be held in custody a moot point. “The accused cannot be incarcerated for an indefinite period as it would amount to pre-trial detention.”

The counsel submitted that the accused satisfies the triple test of bail and that “the statement of witnesses allegedly incriminating the accused as per law are not credible evidences and cannot be basis to deny bail and the same has to be tested during the trial.”

The counsel also clarified with the court that there are no chances of the accused absconding owing to him being 62 years of age, and his roots in the society.

They further “submitted that twin conditions of Section 45 (1) of PMLA Act are not applicable in view of judgment passed by Hon'ble Supreme Court in “Nikesh Tarachand Shah's case, 2016 (11) Sec. 1 wherein Hon'ble Supreme Court observed that the twin conditions of Section 45 (1) of PMLA are violative of constitutional provisions and struck down the said twin conditions of Section 45 (1) PMLA.”

CONTENTIONS OF THE COUNSEL OF THE ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE (ED)

The counsel for the Enforcement Directorate, Shri N.K. Matta for the Enforcement Directorate, Shri N.K. Matta submitted to the court “the investigation is still going on with regard to the role of the accomplices/aides of the accused, including accused, to derive the end use and the last mile connectivity of the money trail,” and if the accused was to be released on bail, there was a good chance that he might “influence the witnesses, tamper the evidence and hamper the investigation.”

The counsel further referred to the provisions of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, which prescribes stringent conditions for the grant of bail to the accused in offences concerning money laundering, and further argued that “reliance of the accused on section 167 (2) Cr.P.C for grant of bail is misplaced since prosecution complaint on the basis of investigation conducted till date has already been filed and
process has been issued against the accused.”

The learned counsel submitted that “there are sufficient incriminating documents have come on record to show the complicity of accused. This case involved the commission of serious economic offences having public ramifications which need to be considered seriously while granting bail. In such cases it is the interest of the public which needs to be considered and bail is liable to be rejected if it would result in the hindrance of further investigation and tampering of evidence. There exists a reasonable apprehension of accused tampering the evidence and hampering the investigation of the instant case. Further, being an influential person, his adverse impact on further investigation of the instant case is writ large. It is submitted that there is reasonable apprehension that accused will try to liquidate the proceeds of crime and destroy money trail apart from continuing to be involved in the commission of money laundering.”

The Court, after considering arguments of both the parties, granted the bail to the businessman after a personal bond and two sureties and promise on the behalf of the accused to comply with certain obligations such as making himself available for the investigation whenever called, and restrictions such as not to leave the country without prior approval of the court or tampering with evidences and witnesses.

 

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