The Rajasthan High Court has stated that parity with other accused is not the sole ground for a grant of bail, and the role of the accused and other considerations have to factored into the analysis.
The Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court yesterday ruled that parity of accused with other accused persons is not the sole ground upon which bail may be granted.
The Court, referring to prior judicial pronouncements, affirmed that the role of the particular accused and “other relevant factors” were to be considered when deciding a concession of bail (Dr. Ashok Singhvi v. Union of India and Mohammad Rashid Sheikh v. Ummanand Vijay, Assistant Director, ED).
The bail applicants were co-accused in a mining scam that allegedly materialised when one, Dr Ashok Singhvi (also a bail applicant) was Principal Secretary (Mines) in the Government of Rajasthan.
The “conspiracy” was unearthed in 2015 when the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted a raid that revealed bribery and an amount of Rs 2.55 crores that was obtained illegally.
The accused were then charged under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (Money-Laundering Act).
The counsel for the accused, Advocates Anil Upman and Deepak Chauhan, argued that other co-accused in the conspiracy had been granted bail and that they had cooperated in the investigations completed so far.
The State’s Counsel, Additional Solicitor-General RD Rastogi and Advocate Anand Sharma, however, urged the Court to reject the application for bail. In their arguments, the State referred to the legal position that bail in economic offences should be considered on “distinct criteria” as they affect the economy as a whole and destroy the very basic fibre of society.
Further, the Money-Laundering Act disallows a grant of bail when a prima facie case is made out against persons accused of offences under the Act, they argued further. Since the accused were “kingpins” in the conspiracy, they were placed-differently from the other accused and thus not entitled to bail, the State submitted.
The Single-Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Sharma accepted the State’s submissions and declined the grant of bail, stating that:“… the case of present applicants is not similar to those co-accused persons looking to their major role in the alleged crime, the evidence collected against them, their conduct of evading trial and other relevant factors.”Justice Satish Kumar Sharma
“… keeping in view the specific major role of the present accused applicants, strong evidence available against them, their conduct to evade the trial, probable impact on the Society on granting bail to present accused applicants having distinct status in this economic offence of severe nature of rampant corruption in Government departments and all other relevant factors as envisaged in PML Act, as well as in above referred judicial pronouncements, both the present applicants do not deserve to be enlarged on bail”, the Court said.
While it agreed that a prima facie case has been made out against the accused, the Court emphasized it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case.