Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar denied relief to Talwar on the ED's contention that he could flee from justice based on his past conduct and record of investigation, besides the fact that his son Aditya -- a co-accused in the case -- is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed the bail plea of lobbyist Deepak Talwar, arrested by the ED in a money laundering case, saying the “magnitude of conspiracy angle” in it is huge and enormous amount of money is yet to be trailed.
Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar denied relief to Talwar on the ED’s contention that he could flee from justice based on his past conduct and record of investigation, besides the fact that his son Aditya — a co-accused in the case — is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.
Talwar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate after his deportation from Dubai in January.
“The gravity of the offence committed by the petitioner (Talwar) is quite evident from the material placed on record. In the instant case there are allegations against the petitioner of money laundering to the extent of Rs 272.01 crore out of which till date only an amount of Rs 127.69 crore could be unearth and further investigation is underway to trace the flow of rest of the fund amounting to Rs 144.32 crore received in the accounts of Guilt Asset Management Limited,” the judge said.
The high court observed that the economic offences like this one constitute a class part and they are not like other criminal cases and need to be visited with a different approach.
“Therefore taking note of huge magnitude of conspiracy angle qua petitioner, it would be premature to jump to the conclusion that investigation in this case in respect of the petitioner is complete, rather huge amount of money is still to be trailed,” it said.
It added that Talwar was not entitled to the grant of bail and dismissed his petition challenging a trial court’s order denying him the relief in the case.
The court noted that during the arguments earlier, it has been urged by Talwar’s counsel that as per the investigating agency, the investigation qua him is complete.
However, this submission has no force as the probe in respect of Talwar’s other associates, public servants and properties involved in the money laundering is still in progress, the court said.
“In my opinion, the tentacles of the crime are so widespread and it is not that the investigation can be segregated in respect of one or the other accused, the entire crime committed is indeed interlinked,” the judge said.
The court added that the diary of proceedings handed over by the ED showed that despite being in judicial custody, how Talwar is still “ruling the roost and is in constant touch with co-accused and interfering with the investigation”.
“So when this is the clout of the petitioner that despite being in judicial custody he is managing things then one can very well imagine what he can do once out on bail,” it held.
The court also referred to a previous order of the Supreme Court on a bail plea in a money laundering case in which it was reiterated that white collar crimes/ economic offenders have deep rooted conspiracies involving huge amount of public funds and this should be viewed seriously and such offences ought to be considered as grave offences.
In this case, the trial court had earlier taken cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the ED and issued production warrant for Talwar, who is lodged in jail.
ED, represented through central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, claimed that Talwar acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing losses to national carrier Air India.
According to the charge sheet, the investigation revealed that Talwar obtained undue favours for the private airlines using his contacts.
ED had told the court earlier that it was trying to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making national carrier gave up profit making routes and profit making timings.
Talwar has been accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery and under various other sections of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act for allegedly diverting Rs 90.72 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulances and other articles received by his NGO from Europe’s leading missile manufacturing company.
His role in some aviation deals during the previous Congress-led UPA regime at the Centre is under scanner as well.
Talwar was booked by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department charged him with tax evasion.