The Supreme Court on Thursday extended by four weeks the protection from arrest granted to Ambience Group promoter Raj Singh Gehlot in a money laundering case linked to an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 800 crore.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), represented by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, opposed the grant of relief before a bench headed by Justice B R Gavai saying the person who siphoned off hundreds of crores of rupees should not be granted bail allegedly on fake medical grounds.
“I wonder why all these economic offenders are always hospitalised after the filing of the case. Otherwise they are hale and hearty,” the law officer told the bench which also comprised justices Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol.
The submissions were opposed by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Gehlot.
Rohatgi said that the apex court on November 4, 2022, had ordered re-examination of Gehlot by a medical board to be constituted by the Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.
The order of this court on medical examination cannot be rendered nugatory, he said.
The bench, after hearing brief submissions, extended the protection from arrest to Gehlot by four more weeks with a direction to the trial court to decide the bail application, if filed, during this period.
The accused has filed as many as three petitions in the top court challenging various orders of the Delhi High Court and the trial court declining him the relief.
The top court has been extending the protection from arrest from time to time in the case.
In one of the orders, passed on March 2, last year, the Delhi High Court had dismissed the bail plea by the Ambience Group promoter Gehlot in the money laundering case.
The ED had earlier raided Gehlot, his company Aman Hospitality Private Limited (AHPL), some other firms of the Ambience Group, director in the company Dayanand Singh, Mohan Singh Gehlot, and their associates.
The ED case against Gehlot, a promoter of the Ambience Mall in Gurugram, is based on a 2019 FIR of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Jammu against AHPL and its directors for alleged money laundering in the construction and development of the five-star Leela Ambience Convention Hotel located near Yamuna Sports Complex in Delhi.
The ED claimed its probe found that a huge part of the loan amount of more than Rs 800 crore, which was sanctioned by a consortium of banks for the hotel project, was siphoned off by AHPL, Raj Singh Gehlot, and his associates through a web of companies owned and controlled by them.
In October 2021, a Delhi trial court had refused to grant bail to Gehlot, saying there was a strong possibility that he could hamper the investigation if released on bail.
“Considering the nature of the offence, seriousness of allegations and a strong possibility of applicant/ accused attempting to influence the course of trial by influencing the witnesses and tampering with the evidence, I am of the considered opinion that the bail application is bereft of any merits and the same is accordingly dismissed,” the trial court had said.