Preeti Chandra is flight risk, mastermind of conspiracy in passing info inside Tihar: ED to SC
The Supreme Court Wednesday was told by Enforcement Directorate that former Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra's wife Preeti Chandra, lodged in Tihar Jail in a money laundering case, is a “serious flight risk” and was the “mastermind of conspiracy” to pass on the information inside Tihar jail when her husband was lodged there. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and PS Narashima asked the ED to file its response on the plea of Preeti seeking permission to move a bail application before the trial court.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for ED, said that the application has been filed by Preeti at the time when the Supreme Court is on the cusp of going into summer vacation and she poses an enormous flight risk.
Divan added, “She should not be treated just as the spouse of Sanjay Chandra. She has a passport of Dominican Republic and is head of Trikar Group, which has operations in several jurisdictions like UAE and Cayman Island”.
The law officer added that allowing the plea to move to the trial court would jeopardise the investigation as the agency is at a very crucial turn in the case.
“She had tried to influence the witness, tried to flee the country, she had disposed of the assets and was the mastermind of the conspiracy to pass on information to her husband when he was lodged in Tihar jail”, Divan said.
The ASG said that the court had earlier cancelled bail in such matters and pointed out that Trikar Group, which is named after her children, has operations in countries that are not contracting parties where letter rogatory cannot be issued.
“She has been non-cooperating in the investigation and the agency has been unable to trace the trail of money and foreign assets. This has been a stumbling block for the agency”, Divan said.
“They have been relying on earlier affidavits but the fact is that this is my statutory right to apply for bail. Since this court is seized of the matter, I had sought permission of this court. My rights under Article 21 cannot be taken away to apply for bail”, he said.
The bench said it is not disposing of the plea and asked ED to file its response on the plea. Earlier on March 25, the top court had conditionally allowed Preeti five hours out of the prison on March 26 or April 5 to attend her maternal grandmother's funeral.
It had ordered that she will not use any cell phone to communicate with anybody or access any other documents and that she will be escorted to the designated place by four Delhi Police personnel and officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The ED had then also opposed the relief, saying she was a flight risk and has acquired citizenship of the Dominican Republic, with which India has no extradition treaty, and that the agency does not want to ''burn their hands'' by allowing her to flee the country.
The ED had said that Preeti, who was arrested on March 10, 2021, had attempted to flee the country but was prevented from doing so due to the lookout circular.
The agency had recently filed a fresh charge sheet before a court here in connection with its money laundering probe against realty group Unitech, its promoter brothers Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, and others.
The ED had made a startling claim in November last year 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.
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. It had directed the Home Ministry to take immediate steps on prison reforms and enhance management.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)