PMLA case: Former JK minister Lal Singh's anticipatory bail plea dismissed

PMLA case: Former JK minister Lal Singh's anticipatory bail plea dismissed

Jammu, Nov 7 (PTI) An anti-corruption court in Jammu on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail application of former minister Lal Singh who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a case against an educational trust run by his wife Kanta Andotra.

However, Andotra and her daughter Kranti Singh got a relief as their interim anticipatory bail was extended till November 30 with a directive to cooperate with the investigation agency without any fail.

Special judge Bala Jyoti passed three separate orders after hearing the arguments put forth by special public prosecutor Ashwani Khajuria, appearing for the ED, and advocate Rajesh Kotwal for the applicants.

Singh, his wife and daughter have moved separate applications in the court on November 1 seeking pre-arrest bail for the alleged commission of offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The court granted them interim bail and sought a detailed response from the ED.

Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party, was questioned by the ED on Saturday and Monday.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches in Jammu and its adjoining areas as part of the money laundering probe against the educational trust of Andotra and a former government official in connection with alleged irregularities in land purchase to set up the trust.

The federal agency had raided about eight premises in Jammu, Kathua and Punjab's Pathankot on October 17 in the case against RB Educational Trust, its chairperson and Ravinder S, a former revenue official.

The money laundering case stems from an October 2021 charge sheet filed by the CBI in this case which alleged criminal connivance in the issuance of land between January 4 and January 7, 2011, without mentioning details in respect of violation of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals imposed under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, thereby giving undue pecuniary advantage to trust.

Based on this, the trust acquired multiple pieces of land of about 329 kanals vide three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011, the CBI charge sheet claimed.

Agreeing with the arguments of SPP Khujuria, the judge said, 'Having heard and regard to the nature of allegations and gravity of the accusation and stage of investigation, to my mind the investigating agency must be given sufficient time in conducting an analyzed and effective investigation.' 'Thus in view of the above, said applicant/petitioner (Lal Singh) is no more entitled to concession of bail at this stage as the same would hamper the ongoing investigation. It must be reminded that pre-arrest bail was granted to the applicant for a limited period on certain conditions including extension of co-operation to the investigating agency,” the 10-page order read.

The court said the PMLA gives unfettered powers to the ED for search, seizure and investigation as 'evil of money laundering is a curse and has its diverse impact on the society and its citizens. Money laundering is a serious threat not only to the financial system of our country but also to the global economy at large which is required to be dealt sternly.” Dismissing the bail application of the former minister, the judge said the allegations being grave and serious in nature against the petitioner, this court is not inclined to grant privilege of bail which stands rejected being devoid of any legal force at this stage.

With regard to the application moved by Andotra, a former legislator, the court said the petitioner already is on absolute bail in the CBI charge sheet which is the fountainhead of the predicate offence.

“Besides PMLA terms can be eased for illness and for women...the (interim) bail is extended till November 30 as investigation is still going on and petitioner is directed to co-operate with the investigating agency without any fail,” the order said.

Similarly, the court extended the interim bail of their daughter Kranti Singh, one of the trustees of the educational trust, till November 30 with directions not to flout conditions of the bail that included cooperating with the investigating agency without any fail. PTI TAS SKL SMN SMN

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