Supreme Court granted anticipatory bail to IAS officer’s brothers in Money Laundering case

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On February 1, 2023, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed an appeal against the order of the Chhattisgarh High Court, rejecting the bail application of the brothers of Chhattisgarh-cadre IAS officer Babulal Agrawal. While hearing the appeal, the top Court granted bail to the brothers (Pawan and Ashok Kumar Agrawal), who were directors of Prime Ispat Limited. A complaint lodged by the Chhattisgarh Anti-Corruption Bureau alleged that the brothers acquired assets that were disproportionate to their known income sources, leading the Income Tax department to raid in February 2010.

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As per the Enforcement Directorate (ED), 400 bank accounts were opened by the accused in the name of villagers of Karora, and a large amount of money was deposited via shell companies. In February 2022, the High Court rejected their anticipatory bail application and stringent twin conditions for bail as in PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) cases were revived.

In the appeal presented before the top Court, an argument was made by the accused that the two brothers were never arrested during the investigation and cooperated throughout the investigation. Further, the Apex Court was told that the appellants were not summoned even once therefore, no custodial interrogation was performed. In this case, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain represented ED whereas appellants were represented by the Advocates Somesh Tiwari, Vidula Mehrota, Abhimanyu Bhandari, Chirag Madan, Utsav Saxena, and Kartika Sharma.

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