The Punjab & Haryana High Court recently stated, while giving bail to a man weighing 153 kg and suffering from co-morbidities, that obesity is not simply a symptom, but a sickness that becomes the underlying cause of multiple other disorders.
Justice GS Gill was considering a bail application filed by a man arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) (ED).
The Court stated when granting bail, “With such co-morbidities, the responsiveness, resistance, resilience, and capacity of the body to combat diseases and recuperate efficaciously reduces significantly.” A jail doctor or a civil hospital may not be entirely able to handle a patient with several ailments who, in addition to medical treatment, may require a specific level of monitoring, care and attention which ordinarily is not available in jail.” Given the petitioner’s co-morbidities, the Court determined that he qualifies as “sick” under Section 45 of the PMLA and is thus eligible for bail.
The petitioner was accused of running a 3,000 crore Ponzi scam in various states, reportedly defrauding 33 lakh individuals. According to the ED, the man profited from the scam to the tune of Rs 53 crore. However, the petitioner claimed to be a software engineer and claimed that all such payments were provided to him as professional fees.
Counsel for the petitioner stated that his client weighs 153 kilos, has a variety of medical difficulties, and his health is deteriorating by the day. It was argued that his continued detention could be fatal in these circumstances.
He also emphasised that the trial in the matter is unlikely to complete in the near future, and that he cannot be imprisoned permanently.
The State’s lawyer objected to the bail request, claiming that the petitioner played a key role in the conduct of the crimes by controlling and handling the software that helped syphon off the funds. It was also argued that the state is fully capable of providing necessary medical care. As a result, considering that Section 45 of the PMLA imposes rigorous conditions for bail grant, the petitioner’s medical condition cannot be used to justify his release on bail, it was argued.
The medical assessment revealed that the petitioner was fat and had irregular hypertension and diabetes, according to the Court. The Bench further noted that the petitioner had been imprisoned for the previous eight months, and that the other co-accused in the case had previously been freed on bail. The Court granted bail on these grounds.
CASE: Pranjil Batra v. ED