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Excuse of Covid-19 cannot deter the Enforcement Directorate from investigating a serious offence of Money Laundering: Bombay HC rejects DHFL Promoters Anticipatory Bail

The Bombay High Court on 12 May, 2020 {Dheeraj Wadhawan v. Directorate of Enforcement and Anr} held that it is mere apprehension expressed by the applicants that on being subjected to custody for the purposes of interrogation may expose them to the virus and in view of the health conditions of the applicants, it may prove to be more fatal. It was held that the said apprehension at the instance of the applicants being in the age group of early forties, cannot be cited against the right of the respondent to seek their custody for interrogation into a serious economic offence. 

It was held by Single Judge of Bombay High Court, Justice BHARATI DANGRE, that the response to the summons speak of apathetic and an indifferent approach. It was held that if Kapil Wadhwan was ailing, nothing prevented from Dhiraj to report to the Investigating Officer by travelling all alone in their offices. It was held that it appears that the close knitted family had taken a decision together and as per their version, for removal of the stress of the earlier arrest, had decided to relax at their home in Mahabaleshwar in spite of all the seriousness of the accusation hovering over them and which from the response itself is clear that they were aware and conscious of, from the media reports.

In the present case, the anticipatory bail applications were moved  in case registered by Directorate of Enforcement. The said ECIR was registered on the basis of FIR registered on 7th March 2020 at 9.15 p.m by the Central Bureau of Investigation at New Delhi under Sections 120B read with Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7, 12 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The FIR alleged that a loan of Rs.750 crores was sanctioned to M/s. RKW Developers which was siphoned by Kapil Wadhwan by transferring it to DHFL.

The HC held that the procedure of law must be followed and abided by. It was held that a serious economic offence cannot wait the pandemic to recede and the projection of the applicants as “not being healthy” and health being a part of Article 21 of the Constitution would not absolve them of being subjected to interrogation by taking recourse to the provision of Section 438 contained in the code of Criminal Procedure which is expected to be exercised on striking a balance of the nature of offence, the conduct of the offender and the need of the Investigating Agency to penetrate the alleged offence. It was held that this is more particularly to be in an offence of money laundering which has serious ramifications and has the potential to bring the swirling economy of the entire country to a standstill.

It was held that it is only the applicants who can throw light on the nature of transaction and the alleged conspiracy can be cracked by interrogating them regarding the rolling of funds in the sister companies by deciphering their accounts. It was also held that the applicants have to be confronted with various incriminating documents with respect to the loans sanctioned in its favour by YES Bank and further loans sanctioned by the DHFL in favour of Rana Kapur so as to unearth the multi crore conspiracy. It was held that the modus-operandi of working of YES bank and its officials is the bone of interrogation along with the concessions and favours granted to the companies/undertakings run by Rana Kapur and his family. It was held that this can only be achieved and attained by custodial interrogation of the applicants. It was further held that the excuse of the pandemic Covid-19 cannot and shall not deter the Enforcement Directorate from investigating a serious offence of Money Laundering which has shaken the economy of India and bear wide ramifications at this juncture.

The Bombay HC held that considering the gravity of the accusations against the present applicants and the need for their custodial interrogation being made out by the Directorate of Enforcement, the present applications filed by the applicants do not warrant any consideration. And both the applications were dismissed by the HC.

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