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Delhi court grants bail to Unitech directors

A Delhi court on Friday granted bail to former Unitech directors Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra in a money laundering case related to alleged cheating of several home buyers, saying the purpose of pre-trial detention can never be punitive.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, the accused, along with others, collected funds running into several hundred crores from the home buyers for housing projects.The accused persons, however, laundered the amount, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.Additional Sessions Judge Dheeraj Mor granted bail, noting that both the accused were languishing in jail for the last two and a half years though the trial of the case has not yet commenced.

“The maximum punishment in this case is seven years and they have already undergone substantial part of the maximum punishment that can be awarded to them in this case,” the judge said.

The judge also noted the submissions made by advocates Arshdeep Singh and Vishal Gosain, appearing for Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra respectively, that the trial was likely to take substantive time since there were 71 accused persons, 121 witnesses and lakhs of supporting documents in the complaint.

“Considering the humongous set of documents, enormous prosecution witnesses and huge number of accused persons coupled with the fact that the trial in this case has not yet commenced despite passage of more than two years, there is no hesitation to record that its trial may go beyond seven years i.e. even more than maximum punishment of this case. The purpose of pre-trial detention can never be punitive. Detention or jail before being pronounced guilty of an offence should not become punishment without trial. The trial in this case cannot be concluded within a foreseeable time,” the judge said.

 The judge added that co-accused persons, including Preeti Chandra and Rajesh Malik, have already been enlarged on bail after they suffered incarceration for nearly one and a half years.

ED’s Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta opposed the application, claiming that the allegations against the applicants and roles assigned to them are dissimilar and graver to the co-accused persons.

The judge, however, said that “in the wake of the above discussions regarding the evidentiary value of the material available on record against them, there seems to be enough justifiable reason for invoking the principles of parity in favour of both the applicants who have already undergone two and a half years of incarceration in this case having maximum punishment of 7 years”

According to the ED, the case was registered based on several FIRs registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police and Saket Police station under various sections of the IPC on the allegations of layering and laundering of home buyers’ money in the projects of the company, i.e. Proceeds of Crime derived or obtained as a result of criminal activity relating to the said scheduled /predicate offences.

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