A Delhi court on Friday has transferred a money laundering case against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Satyendar Jain to a new judge. Special Judge Vikas Dhull will now hear the case, Enforcement Directorate (ED) lawyers said.
Principal District and Sessions Judge Vinay Kumar Gupta had allowed the ED plea to transfer the case from the court of Special Judge Geetanjli Goel.
The ED had on Thursday told the court that the judge did not consider that “he (Jain) can manage hospitals and jails as he held those portfolios when he was a minister”. This was met with strong opposition by Jain’s lawyers, who questioned where the country was headed if the agency could not trust its doctors and judges.
The ED had apprised the court that Jain had earlier applied for medical bail and got himself admitted to LNJP Hospital. He told the court that the agency had objected to any medical reports from the hospital considering that he was the minister of health and “the hospital was under his control and things can be managed”.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, who appeared on behalf of ED, had argued that Special Judge Goel “calls for the report of the very hospital which we had an objection for”.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared on behalf of Jain, had argued that the ED application was a mala fide plea. He said that no apprehension was put forth by ED before September 15 when the matter was being heard in its final stages.
“Orally you are attributing something to the judge. And the judge is entitled to say you have not answered the question. Is the judge supposed to be a silent spectator? How is this a relevant fact? Judge also agreed when issues were controverted during submissions. Is this a ground for transfer?” Sibal had argued.
He added, “All this happened much prior. What is the bias that the judge may grant regular bail? Because the judge didn’t allow the accused to be shifted to AIIMS or Safdarjung? This is a malafide application, to derail the trial, to prolong my custody, to ensure that their whims and fancies are agreed to, and send a message to the judiciary that if you don’t agree to us, this is what will happen.”
The ED had arrested Jain in a case based on a CBI FIR lodged against him in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Jain was accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.
In the past few hearings in the bail proceedings, Special Judge Goel had pulled up the agency over its probe in the case.
On September 8, the judge asked why the ED went beyond the CBI case by investigating alleged proceeds of crime not mentioned in the charge sheet. She had also sought an explanation on what the criminality was in the case, remarking at one point that the companies said to be cheated by the AAP leader were also named as accused.