MUMBAI: Opposing the reliefs sought by Omkar Group promoters Babulal Varma and Kamalkishore Gupta, Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday told the special PMLA court that their plea was not maintainable. The ED also submitted that in the same case itself in 2021, Bombay high court had ruled that once investigation is initiated under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), it is independent of any scheduled offence.
The high court had said neither compounding nor closure of the original first information report of a scheduled offence would affect the PMLA probe. ED on Friday said an appeal on this aspect was pending before Supreme Court.
ED iterated that the outcome of the matter in the special PMLA court will be the first such in the country. The court will continue hearing arguments on August 20.
Accused in a money laundering case, on Wednesday the accused moved discharge pleas before the special PMLA court, citing a July 27 Supreme Court ruling which said that when there is no scheduled predicate offence, the PMLA case cannot continue. The predicate offence against the accused, based on which, ED had registered its money laundering case, was closed.
On Monday, in probably the first such instance, citing related guidelines in the Supreme Court ruling, the court granted their plea for interim release. The duo was arrested over 18 months ago.
The court had said that if it cannot try the PMLA case of both accused when there is no predicate offence, certainly it could not continue their judicial custody for an uncertain period. "If the court continues judicial custody... there will be a serious complication in respect of illegal detention," the special judge had said.
On Friday, ED said this issue is expected to affect many proceedings and pleas will be filed in courts in the country. Special public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar said the accused plea was not maintainable and bad in law.