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Delhi HC to hear Raghav Bahl's plea on Jan 16, refuses to stay money-laundering probe

Source: PTI
December 05, 2022 19:28 IST
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The Delhi high court on Monday granted "last opportunity" to the Enforcement Directorate to respond to a petition by media baron Raghav Bahl to quash a money laundering case against him, but refused to pass an order staying the investigation at this stage.

Photograph: Courtesy, Raghav Bahl on Facebook

Justice Jasmeet Singh said that the court would take up the petition as well as the application seeking interim relief on January 16.

The counsel for the agency informed the court that the high court denied any interim relief to the petitioner last December and even the Supreme Court refused to interfere, but the applicant is again seeking a stay on the investigation.

The petitioner cannot "ask this court, when they fail in special leave petition (before the top court), to sit on appeal against Allahabad high court judgment that no scheduled offence is made out,” the counsel said.

 

The ED case against the petitioner arises from a complaint by the income tax department and concerns the alleged laundering of funds to purchase an undisclosed asset in London.

The counsel for the petitioner said that he was ”not attacking scheduled offence” in the present case and that the Supreme Court did not grant relief in appeal only on the premise that the main petition and application were pending before the high court.

He emphasised that there has not been any adjudication on his plea for interim relief and the high court had earlier denied a direction of no coercive steps as an ”ad interim ex parte” order.

”We will take up your petition for hearing on 16 January but there is no question of ex parte ad-interim stay,” the judge said while giving the agency two weeks to respond.

The I-T department had initiated proceedings against the petitioner under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015 for alleged irregularities in the returns filed for the assessment year (AY) 2018-2019.

The petitioner's counsel said that "it is nobody's case that even one rupee of tax has been evaded or money was sent abroad through hawala channels and that there was no generation of proceeds in crime in the case".

”All this is water under the bridge. These are all orders which were very much there when you were in Supreme Court. All these issues you could have said there,” the court said as it deferred hearing in the matter.

”The matter is listed on January 16 on which date this application (for interim relief) will also be taken up. ED is given two weeks as the last opportunity to file a reply,” it said.

In his petition, Raghav Bahl has claimed that since he has ”done no wrong”, the continuation of the process of inquiry under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002 ”without having any subsisting basis in fact or law” has a ”deleterious effect” on his life, business, and reputation.

On December 3, 2021, the high court had sought a response from the ED on Bahl's petition to quash a money laundering case against him.

”Would your lordship consider granting the same order of no coercive step as granted by Supreme Court (in the case concerning the substantive offence)?” the senior lawyer appearing for the petitioner had asked.

”I don't consider it, sir,” the high court had responded.

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