The Delhi High Court ruled that sick or infirm people do not have to meet the two conditions for bail under Section 45(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
When an accused requests for bail under the PMLA, the public prosecutor must be given an opportunity to object, and if the court is contemplating granting bail, there must be reasonable grounds for the court to infer that the person is not guilty and is unlikely to commit any crime while on release. A proviso to the rule, however, provides that someone who is sick or infirm may be freed on bail.
In a judgment on a bail application, Justice Jasmeet Singh stated that the inclusion of the proviso for grant of bail demonstrates the legislative desire to include relaxations for persons under the age of 16, women, and the sick and infirm. The court also cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Gautam Kundu v. Directorate of Enforcement, in which it was stated that the legislature had created an exception for certain categories.
The Enforcement Directorate had previously argued that the required test is whether the person in custody has a condition that cannot be treated in jail.
Justice Singh made the remarks while granting bail to one Devki Nandan Garg in the ED’s money laundering suit in connection with the Shakti Bhog loan scam case. Garg has been suffering from several diseases since 2001, according to his bail petition.
Following a complaint from the State Bank of India, the CBI filed a FIR against Shakti Bhog Foods Limited in December 2020. Because the offences were booked under the PMLA, a money laundering case was filed in January 2021. According to the ED’s probe, Garg reportedly falsified transport bills and used fraudulent PAN account details in the fake invoices submitted by Shakti Bhog Foods Limited via multiple shell firms. Garg is accused of actively participating in the rotation and layering of bank funds in sham companies. According to the ED, Garg received ‘proceeds of crime’ of Rs.15.76 Crores as commission for phony bills for Rs.15.76 Crores. According to the agency, the abovementioned funds were proceeds of crime under Section 2 (u) of the PMLA.
Garg’s medical issues, according to the ED, are “historical,” as he has been suffering from them since 2001. “Even during the period of the accused offences, i.e., from 2007 to 2012, the applicant was suffering from these ailments,” the central agency counsel told the court, adding that he was receiving good and adequate medical care in the prison. After reviewing the medical records, Justice Singh concluded that Garg is sick and infirm. The court further stated that some of the medical issues are significant and potentially fatal. Noting that the terms ‘sick’ and ‘infirm’ are not defined in the PMLA, the court relied on their dictionary definitions.
“He is functioning on 30% capacity of one kidney and the other kidney is dead. He requires constant monitoring otherwise his fluctuations can cause death. He has undergone multiple surgeries for removal of his large intestine, gall bladder, peptic ulcer, colostomy and even a hernia operation. He has a pacemaker installed due to his heart condition and is also suffering from Spondylitis and Vertigo. During his period in jail, the applicant contracted Syphilis on 27.10.2021 and Covid-19 on 17.01.2022,” said the court.
Regarding ED’s contention that Garg had a medical problem that could not be treated in jail, the court stated that there can be no argument over the idea that the accused is entitled to proper and sufficient medical attention and assistance. “The resources in the jail are of a general nature and character, which is insufficient to monitor the applicant’s proper health, who is suffering from various serious conditions. The jail is not able to offer the petitioner with the special and extensive therapy and care that he requires “it was added. The court further stated that Garg’s health is such that he needed immediate medical attention, which cannot be delivered in jail in a timely and effective manner in comparison to a hospital setting.
“Syphilis is a bacterial illness that can lay dormant in the body for decades before reactivating.” Syphilis, if left untreated, can cause severe heart, brain, and other organ damage, as well as death. The danger of kidney failure is great, and even a minor illness can cause it. The petitioner requires “continuous daily monitoring to ensure that the parameters of 30% kidney function do not collapse,” according to the court. The court rejected the claim that the ailments were “historical” in character, stating that ailments intensify with age and said that “Ailments that, when combined with old age, place the applicant in the category of “Infirm Person.” A hospital’s degree of care, attention, minute-to-minute monitoring, and emergency reaction cannot be matched in the jail.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is a Parliament of India Act adopted by the NDA government to prohibit money laundering and to provide for the confiscation of property obtained via money laundering. The PMLA and the Rules notified thereunder went into effect on July 1, 2005.
Title: DEVKI NANDAN GARG v. DIRECTORATE OF ENFORCEMENT