Punjab & Haryana HC rejects Anticipatory Bail to persons accused of Money Laundering worth Rs.220 Cr [Read Order]

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court rejected the anticipatory bail to a person accused of Money Laundering worth Rs.220 Crores.

The petitioner, Jagadish Nangineni and Jagdish Chandra Sharma submitted that Sobha and Chintels entered into 59 agreements to sell through which they agreed to sell 59 NPNL plots to LLPs created by Sobha at the price determined by the DTCP for sale of NPNL plots. On these agreements petitioner, Jagadish Nangineni appended his signatures on behalf of Chintels and Sobha. The sale consideration of Rs.48 lakhs for each of the plots was agreed to be paid within 24 months from the date of execution of the agreement. Within three weeks from the date of the aforesaid agreement, the LLPs created by Sobha, through 59 agreements to sell, all dated June 15, 2012, further agreed to sell the NPNL plots to Eunomia Developers, which was another LLP created by Sobha. This time the agreed sale consideration for each plot was a little less than Rs.50 lakhs and the payment was to be made on or before 24 months from the date of execution of the agreement. Thereafter, through separate agreements, Eunomia and Sobha entered into a joint development agreement to develop the 59 NPNL plots.

Through such an agreement they agreed to the revenue sharing ratio between Eunomia and Sobha to be 17:83. To the joint development agreement also, on behalf of Sobha it was the petitioner – Jagadish Nangineni who appended his signatures. After construction of the Villas on all the 59 NPNL plots, they were put to the sale for a price which was equivalent to or higher than the Villas sold under the general category and the conveyance deed with the purchaser of such villas was not between the landowner – Eunomia and the purchaser but between Sobha/ Chintels on one hand and the purchaser on the other. On the conveyance deed also petitioner appended his signatures on behalf of Sobha and Chintels. The sale consideration for each of the Villas, as per the conveyance deed, was Rs.3.56 crores but the purchaser(s), on being questioned by the ED, stated that they had paid to Sobha/ Chintels an amount of Rs.4.25 crores for the entire property.

During the search operations conducted by the ED on the premises of Sobha, Chintels, and QVC several incriminating documents have been found which include documents showing payment of over Rs.220 crores by Sobha to Chintels/ QVC including Rs.120 crores (approximately) as non-refundable deposit paid by Sobha to Chintels/ QVC much before the issuance of the license.

The petitioners sought anticipatory bail in view of the emergent situation being faced in the country due to rising cases under the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, the Solicitor General of India sought dismissal of the present petitions and submitted that since he was opposing the grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioners, in terms of the twin conditions prescribed in Section 45 of the PMLA, this Court could grant anticipatory bail to the petitioners only after recording satisfaction that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the petitioners were not guilty of the alleged offenses and that while on bail they were not likely to commit any offense

The single judge bench of Justice Deepak Sibal observed that The ED alleges that both the petitioners are actively involved in the planning and execution of all the above transactions involving the repeated transfer of funds and that since investigations qua the petitioners are still going on this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

“The petitioners are accused of serious economic offenses. The ED is in the midst of analyzing the exact role of each of the petitioners qua the offenses they are accused of. Grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioners at this stage would certainly result in putting a spoke in the wheel of the investigating agency and dampen their efforts in elucidating the required information from the petitioners,” the court while rejecting the anticipatory bail said.

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