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Manipur High Court grants anticipatory bail to former CM Okram Ibobi in money laundering case of ED

The money laundering case was registered by the Guwahati Zonal Office of the Enforcement Directorate on March 16, 2020 based on FIR file by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Police Station, Manipur in 2018.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 1 Dec 2021, 2:48 pm

Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)
Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)

Manipur High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to former Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, in connection with money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate.

The case was registered by the Guwahati Zonal Office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 16, 2020 based on FIR file by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Police Station, Manipur in 2018. The FIR pertained to offences under Sections 420 and 120-B IPC along with Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The alleged offences related to award of certain works by Loktak Development Authority, of which the petitioner was the chairman at the relevant point of time. The works was stated to have been done in violation of the prescribed norms resulting in wrongful financial loss to the Government and the exchequer.

The fresh case was registered by the ED in 2020 on the ground that the information or documents pertained to the Vigilance’s FIR case against accused persons, including Ibobi had generated and laundered proceeds of crime and a prima-facie case of money laundering, under Section 3 of the Act of 2002, was made out.

The HC granted anticipatory bail to the petitioner in connection with the case on August 26, 2019. With the bail order having attained its finality, Ibobi sought similar relief in connection with the case.

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In the course of the hearing, the court noted that the petitioner has also been granted anticipatory bail in relation to the said FIR in August 2019. Documentary evidence, which would be the fulcrum of the case, having already been secured and given the passage of time since registration of the earlier case, there is no “manifest risk” of the petitioner tampering with evidence or witnesses at this late stage.

Moreover, the court stated that it finds no tangible reason to believe that the “petitioner would abscond or try to evade the law and, in any event, the same can be guarded against by imposing restrictions”.

The ED, Sub-Zonal Office, Imphal submitted an affidavit of objection that his office would require custodial interrogation to record statements and provide evidence. Moreover, the ED expressed apprehension that the petitioner would tamper with evidence, witnesses and might attempt to dispose of the proceeds of crime, citing the position of Ibobi, who has firm root in the society being undisputed. The court noted that the present case originated from the FIR case of 2018 and the evidence seized in connection therewith is already in the custody of the authorities.

The petitioner has also been granted anticipatory bail in relation to the said FIR in August, 2019. Documentary evidence, which would be the fulcrum of the case, having already been secured and given the passage of time since registration of the earlier case, there is no manifest risk of the petitioner tampering with evidence or witnesses at this late stage.

Further, his status and firm roots in society being undisputed, the petitioner is not shown to be a flight-risk. The court finds no tangible reason to believe that he would abscond or try to evade the law and, in any event, the same can be guarded against by imposing restrictions. Further, as he has presented himself willingly before the ED after receiving the summons.

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As such, the HC opined that the court does not find any grounds warranting custodial interrogation at this stage in relation to events that took place long ago and granted the bail.

However, the HC allowed the bail petition with conditions that the petitioner should execute a personal bond for a sum of `1 lakh (Rupees One Lakh) only and shall also furnish two sureties for a like sum each to the satisfaction of the Assistant Director, Sub-Zonal Office of the Enforcement Directorate at Imphal, Manipur. The petitioner should continue to co-operate with the investigation by presenting himself for interrogation as and when required and shall produce documents in his possession, if any, as and when required by the Enforcement Directorate.

In the event, if the petitioner fails to do so, the Enforcement Directorate would be at liberty to approach the court and seek cancellation of the order. The petitioner should not tamper with the evidence in any manner or seek to influence any witness; be it by threat, intimidation or by inducement or promise. The petitioner should not leave the country without the permission of the Enforcement Directorate. He should deposit his Passport with the Assistant Director, Sub-Zonal Office of the Enforcement Directorate, Imphal, Manipur, within two days from the date of receipt of a copy of the order.

 

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First published:30 Nov 2021, 5:14 pm

Tags:

manipur high courtbaillawcaseo ibobienforcement directorate

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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