SC gives teeth to the ED investigation against Unitech
The Supreme Court Thursday granted permission to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to rely on the report of court-appointed forensic auditors in its charge sheet to be filed against Unitech’s former promoters Sanjay Chandra, Ajay Chandra, and others. The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah gave permission to the ED to rely on the Grant Thornton report with the probe agency saying it will make the case stronger against the Chandras.
“With the above clarification, permission is granted to the ED to file the report of the forensic auditors, Grant Thornton with the prosecution complaint to be filed before the special court for offences punishable under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The IA is accordingly disposed of,” said the apex court.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the ED, submitted that the agency is going to file the charge sheet next week in the money laundering case lodged against the Chandras. The bench also allowed realty firm Unitech’s founder 84-year old Ramesh Chandra to move the special PMLA court at Patiala House Court here to seek bail in a recent case registered against him by the ED.
However, the Court said that it cannot allow weekly meetings but allowed Sanjay and Ajay Chandra, to have video conference meetings once every fortnight and said that their family members can talk to them as per the jail manual. The bench said that lawyers seeking to have meetings with the accused have to give their identity like bar council license number to the jail authorities before any virtual meeting is conducted.
On November 10 last year, the top court had said that it is a “sorry state of affairs” in Tihar Jail which has become a den of criminals and murders are happening there, and had directed the Home Ministry to take immediate steps on prison reforms and enhance management. The ED had earlier made a startling revelation that it had unearthed a “secret underground office” here which was being operated by erstwhile Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons Sanjay and Ajay when on parole or bail. Both Sanjay and Ajay who are in jail since August 2017 are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers’ money.
On August 26 last year, the apex court directed that the Chandra brothers be shifted from Tihar Jail in the national capital to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail and Taloja prison in Maharashtra after the ED had said that they were conducting business from the premises in connivance with the staff. Under the direction of the top court, the Chandra brothers were shifted to jails in Mumbai.
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