Former Minister Lal Singh granted interim bail in money laundering case; walks out of Jammu jail

Former Minister Lal Singh granted interim bail in money laundering case; walks out of Jammu jail

Jammu, Nov 23 (PTI) A special court here on Thursday granted interim bail to former minister Lal Singh who was arrested in a money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate earlier this month.

Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP), walked out of Jammu district jail to a warm welcome by his relatives and supporters this evening.

The former minister was arrested from a house here on November 7, within hours after special judge, Anti-corruption (CBI cases) Jammu Bala Jyoti dismissed his anticipatory bail application.

Singh is under investigation by the ED in connection with the case against an educational trust run by his wife and former legislator Kanta Andotra.

“…petitioner has been able to carve out a strong prima facie case for enlargement on interim bail as such the petitioner is admitted to interim bail, subject to furnishing surety for an amount of Rs 2 lakh with a personal bond of the like amount, on the conditions that he shall remain present before the ED as and when called and shall render all possible assistance in the due investigation of the case,” said Principal Sessions Judge (Special court, designated under PMLA), Jammu Sanjay Parihar in a 15-page order.

The court directed Singh not to indulge in repetition of the offence and to refrain from intimidating or harassing the prosecution witnesses.

“In the event of any such claim of the respondent, the concession of bail is amenable to withdrawal. Besides (he) shall surrender his passport before the ED,” the court said, listing the case for hearing on December 14.

The money laundering case stems from an October 2021 chargesheet 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 via three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011, the CBI chargesheet claimed.

“Property that is alleged to have resulted in yielding of crime proceeds has been valued at the time of transfer at Rs 16 lakh only, which is far less than the prescribed value of one crore as provided under proviso to Section 45.” “Considering the fact that petitioner is not involved in the predicate offence and the allegations of threat and intimidation sought to be attributed against the petitioner on the strength of statements given by donor under section…, that too being not on oath, would not be deemed as a sufficient material to come within the purview of reasonable grounds for believing the petitioner to be guilty,” the principal sessions judge said.

The court said there may be accusation that petitioner is involved in a serious offence, however, the material so produced in the report given by the respondent when examined on the touchstone of grant or declining of bail, leans in favour of petitioner who is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

The judge said even otherwise also his role is attributed only as an attorney because the transfer has been affected by the donor in favour of the Trust. So, parties thereto are to be held accountable for undervaluation and not the petitioner.

“In that background denial of bail to the petitioner would give him an impression that he is being held guilty without trial,” the court said, asserting that his continuous incarceration is not going to serve the cause of the respondent.

Later, Singh was released from Amphalla jail where he was shifted on November 18 on a 14-day judicial remand by the special judge anti-corruption (CBI cases).

Dozens of his party activists and relatives turned up to accord a warm welcome to the former minister on his release from the jail this evening.

“We are thankful to the judiciary and have full faith in our courts…all Dogras and every other person who believes in the system of justice will welcome our leader's release,” DSSP General Secretary Hari Dutt Shishu told PTI outside the jail.

He said the party activists were waiting for this day and had voluntarily come to meet their leader. “His arrest was an attempt to suppress the democratic voice but ultimately the truth prevails. The courts are the ray of light.” Jammu district president of DSSP Vijayant Pathania while welcoming the release of Singh on interim bail said “the party activists will celebrate Diwali today.” PTI TAS/SBL TAS NB NB NB

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