1. Leave granted.2. By way of this appeal, the appellant who is the accused in Complaint No. 8 of 2017 relating to offences under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (€˜the PMLA Act€™) and who is in custody since 27.11.2019, has questioned the order dated 25.11.2020 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench in Criminal Misc. Case No. 12568 of 2019, whereby the High Court rejected his prayer for bail while providing for expeditious proceedings in the trial and while giving him liberty to move for bail afresh, if the trial was not concluded within six months from the date of production of a certified copy of its order.3. Shorn of unnecessary details, the relevant background aspects of the matter are that the appellant, who was then working as Chief Regional Manager, IRCTC, at Regional Office, Lucknow, was tried and convicted for the offences under Sections 7, 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (€˜the P.C. Act€™) in FIR No. RC0062009A0033 on the allegations that he was caught red-handed with bribe money of INR 70,000/- on 30.10.2009. The appellant was awarded sentence for maximum period of five years with stipulations of fine by the judgment dated 11.08.2014 passed by the Special Judge, Anti-Corruption CBI (West), Lucknow. The appeal filed by the appellant against such conviction and sentence, being Criminal Appeal No. 1109 of 2014, is pending in the High Court; and the execution of sentence awarded to him has been suspended by the order dated 25.09.2014.4. In relation to the aforesaid case, CBI conducted search in the residential and office premises of the appellant; and FIR No. RC0062010A0010 under Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(e) of the P.C. Act was lodged on 24.02.2010, with the allegation that the appellant, by misusing his official position, acquired disproportionate assets. After investigation, charge sheet was filed in the said case on 13.11.2010 with the assertion that the appellant was found in the possession of moveable and immoveable assets the tune of INR 2,13,81,313/- though his income, in the check period, was INR 1,51,24,983/-.5. With reference to the aforesaid investigation of the predicate offences in the aforesaid two FIRs, investigation under the provisions of the PMLA Act was initiated on 23.03.2010 and thereafter, Complaint Case No. 8 of 2017 has been lodged under Sections 3 and 4 of the PMLA Act.6. Put in a nutshell, it is alleged, as regards the offences under PMLA Act, that after investigation, evidence in relation to money laundering was also found against the appellant and proceeds of crime were to the tune of INR 1,38,63,445/-.7. The High Court took note of the relevant background aspects and the nature of accusations in the impugned order dated 25.11.2020. The High Court did not feel inclined to grant the concession of bail at the given stage but found it just and proper to direct expeditious proceedings in the trial while giving liberty to the appellant to apply for bail afresh at a later stage. The High Court observed and directed as under: -€œIn view of above, no case for bail is made out at this stage. Accordingly, bail application is rejected.However, trial Court is directed to conclude the trial of Compliant Case No. 8 of 2017, under Section 3/4 of PML Act expeditiously, on day to day basis and no adjournment would be given without recording reasons. Additional Director, Enforcement Directorate of concerned region is directed to ensure the presence of witnesses before the Trial Court for necessary compliance.In case, the trial is not concluded within six months from the date of production of a certified copy of this order, it will be open to the applicant to approach either the court below or this Court for bail afresh.Office is directed to communicate this order to the authorities concerned for necessary compliance, forthwith.€8. It is submitted on behalf of the appellant by the learned counsel Ms. Kamini Jaiswal that the trial is at the very initial stage inasmuch as only the examination-in-chief of one prosecution witness has taken place and 13 witnesses are to be examined in the present case as also in the connected case. It is strenuously argued that the continued detention of the appellant is not going to serve the cause of justice when the trial is likely to consume further time and, in the given circumstances, the appellant deserves the concession of bail. It is also submitted that the appellant is on bail in other cases and there is no allegation of any misuse of liberty by the appellant.9. Learned ASG, Shri S.V. Raju, with his firmness as also fairness, has made the submissions on behalf of the respondent, with reference to the nature of accusations against the appellant and the fact that the appellant earlier avoided to appear and for that matter, non-bailable warrants had to be issued. However, there is no dispute about the present status of the trial that only the examination-in-chief of the first prosecution witness has been recorded.10. Having given thoughtful consideration to the rival submissions and having examined the material placed on record, we are clearly of the view that continuing with the detention of the appellant to face the trial in the present case would not serve the cause of justice. Even if the appellant had earlier not appeared, the fact of the matter remains that he had faced trial in the P.C. Act matter and his appeal remains pending.11. The High Court, in the impugned order dated 25.11.2020, declined the bail at the given stage but directed the Trial Court to proceed with the trial on day-to-day basis and also gave liberty to the appellant to apply for bail afresh, if trial did not conclude within six months from the date of production of copy of its order. The fact remains that this appeal is being considered today by this Court only after six months from the date of order of the High Court but, what to say of conclusion, the trial is practically at the very initial stage with even the statement of the first prosecution witness remaining incomplete. Looking to the nature of case and the witnesses to be examined, the trial and is bound to take time. On the other hand, the appellant is said to be in custody since 27.11.2019.12. In the given scenario and status of the case, driving the parties to another round of bail plea in the Trial Court or in the High Court does not appear serving the cause of justice and we see
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
no reason to deny the personal liberty to the appellant now at this stage, particularly when his properties otherwise remain attached and it is also pointed out that his passport is already deposited with the CBI.13. In view of above, this appeal is allowed in the manner that while setting aside the impugned order dated 25.11.2020, the appellant is ordered to be released on bail on such terms and conditions as deemed fit and necessary by the Trial Court, which shall include the conditions that the appellant will not attempt to alienate any of his properties without permission of the Trial Court and will render all cooperation in expeditious proceedings of the trial.14. All pending applications stand disposed of.