Supreme Court directs ex-Unitech promoters to be shifted to Mumbai’s Arthur Road, Taloja jails
Calling the Tihar Jail administration “shameless” the Supreme Court Thursday directed that former Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra be shifted from Tihar Jail to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail and Taloja prison in Maharashtra. The apex court issued shifting from Tihar jail after seeing the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) report accusing Chandra brothers were conducting business from jail with the connivance of jail staff. The top court, which perused two status reports of the ED, said Tihar Jail Superintendent and other staff are “absolutely shameless” for conniving with the Chandra brothers to flout the court orders and undermine its jurisdiction.
Unitech promoted by Ramesh Chandra was India’s second-largest real estate company after DLF. Bad days started for Chandras when his younger son Sanjay Chandra was caught in 2G Scam and started facing prison life from early 2011. Nira Radia’s tapes exposed that Unitech was Tata Group’s strategic partner in the real estate business.
Supreme Court also directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to personally hold inquiry forthwith about the conduct of Tihar Jail staff with regard to the Chandras and submit the report to the Court within four weeks.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said the brothers will be lodged separately in Arthur Road and Taloja prisons. “We are of the view that materials on record indicate that despite the orders of this Court, activities are taking place within the premises of Tihar Central Jail, where the two accused are lodged, which have the propensity to undermine the authority of the Court, as also to derail the investigations which have been ordered to be done by the ED including but not confined to the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act).
“In the circumstances, we direct that both the accused Ajay Chandra and Sanjay Chandra be shifted from Tihar Central Jail to the premises of Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai and at Taloja Central Jail,” the bench said in its order. During the hearing, the bench told Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for ED, “Tihar jail officials have actively connived with the accused to flout the orders of this court. We have to say that the Tihar Jail superintendent and his staff are absolutely shameless. But we don’t want to miss the wood for the trees.
“All we have to say is that Tihar Jail staff are shameless. Can you imagine it is happening right in the Centre and in the capital? We will certainly take them to the task. We will first shift the accused from this jail”. The two ED reports have raised some “serious and disturbing” issues for consideration and will be dealt with accordingly, the top court said.
SC also directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to personally hold inquiry forthwith about the conduct of Tihar Jail staff with regard to the Chandras and submit the report to the Court within four weeks. The bench said the contents of the ED letter written to Delhi CP raises serious issues and of concern to the Court, in particular, is that its effort and jurisdiction are sought to be undermined in complicity with the jail staff.
ED made a startling revelation that it has 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. ED, which has been investigating money laundering charges against the Chandras’ and Unitech Ltd, said in its report that both Sanjay and Ajay have rendered the entire judicial custody meaningless as they have been freely communicating, instructing their officials, and disposing of properties from inside the jail in connivance with the prison staff there.
Both Sanjay and Ajay who are in jail since August 2017 are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers’ money. The top court in its October 2017 order had asked them to deposit Rs.750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017. The Chandras have claimed that they complied with the Court’s conditions and they have deposited an amount in excess of Rs.750 crore and therefore they are granted bail. The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects — ‘Wild Flower Country‘ and ‘Anthea Project‘– situated in Gurugram.
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