Noting that his plea was “premature”, the Delhi High Court on Monday declined the request by media baron Raghav Bahl to quash an Enforcement Directorate (ED) money-laundering case against him.
Justice Jasmeet Singh also rejected Mr. Bahl’s challenge to the look out circular (LOC) against him, observing that the issue of generation of “proceeds of crime” was being investigated.
The ED case against Mr. Bahl arises from a complaint by the Income Tax Department and concerns the alleged laundering of funds to purchase an alleged undisclosed asset in London.
The department had initiated proceedings against Mr. Bahl for alleged irregularities in the returns filed for assessment year 2018-2019.
Mr. Bahl’s counsel sought to quash the ECIR (enforcement case information report) and the LOC on the ground that there were no proceeds of crime or illegal money in the case and that there could also be no allegations of tax evasion.
Opposing the plea, the ED submitted that there were allegations of violation of Black Money Act and attempt to evade tax. It also stated that the ECIR cannot be quashed at the stage of summons.
“I am of the view that the petition itself is premature... There are allegations in the complaint regarding tax evasion. The allegations are yet to reach the stage of trial. Whether there is generation of proceeds of crime or not is being investigated. For aforesaid reasons, petition for relief of quashing the ECIR is premature and is rejected,” Justice Singh said.
“The allegations against the petitioner (Mr. Bahl) are with regard to compromising the economic interest of India. The quashing of LOC at this stage again will be premature,” he added.
The High Court, however, said Mr. Bahl’s liberty to travel abroad in genuine circumstances cannot be curtailed, clarifying that his plea seeking permission to undertake such travel will be decided by the courts concerned whenever filed.