Discretion of court to grant bail in PMLA cases is not to be exercised only as last resort: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court on Monday granted interim bail for six weeks to ‘Indo Spirits’ founder Sameer Mahandru in the money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh held that freedom is a cherished fundamental right and the discretion of the Court in granting bail to accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is not to be exercised only as a last resort.

Mahandru had sought bail on medical grounds stating that he is suffering from life-threatening diseases which warrants immediate medical treatment.

The plea was opposed by the ED which argued that Mahandru’s condition is ‘stable’.

However, after considering the case, the Court observed that health condition of a human being deserves utmost importance and therefore, granted him bail for six weeks.

Justice Singh said that right to health is one of the most significant dimensions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

“Every person has a right to get himself adequately and effectively treated. The exercise of discretion of the grant of bail is not to be exercised only as a last resort rather freedom is a cherished fundamental right,” the Bench underscored.

In this regard, the Court placed reliance on the High Court decision in Vijay Agrawal Through Parokar v. Directorate of Enforcement.

“Vijay Agrawal Through Parokar v. Directorate of Enforcement, (Supra) requires attention in this scenario as the Coordinate Bench of this Court, in this case, linked the bail to “sick or infirm” with the fundamental right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and held that the discretionary power of the court in granting bail in the offences of PMLA should not only be exercised at the last breathing stage but also when adequate treatment is warranted for the accused person with ailments,” the Court noted.

Mahandru will be released after furnishing a personal bond of ₹10 lakh and two sureties of the same amount.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa along with advocates Dhruv Gupta, Manik Dhingra and Prabhav Palli appeared for Sameer Mahandru.

ED was represented by advocates Zoheb Hossain, Ankit Bhatia, Vivek Gurnani and Kartik Sabharwal.

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