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SC orders shifting of ex-Unitech promoters to Mumbai's Arthur Road, Taloja jails

SC orders shifting of ex-Unitech promoters to Mumbai's Arthur Road, Taloja jails

The SC bench comprising JA bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that findings in the ED report are extremely serious and that if any financial audit is required, it should be done

Former Unitech promoters Ajay Chandra and Sanjay Chandra Former Unitech promoters Ajay Chandra and Sanjay Chandra

In a major revelation, the Enforcement Directorate in its latest report told the Supreme Court that it found a secret underground office of the erstwhile founders of Unitech, Sanjay and Ajay Chandra, in South Delhi, and that they were operating it from inside the Tihar jail. The premier probe agency said hundreds of original property sale deeds, digital signatures and computers with sensitive info were seized from Unitech's secret office.

The SC bench comprising JA bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that findings in the ED report are extremely serious and that if any financial audit is required, it should be done.

The SC has ordered shifting of both Sanjay and Ajay Chandra from Delhi's Tihar jail to Mumbai's Arthur Road jail and Taloja jail. The apex court said the inquiry on the matter has to be conducted by the Delhi police personally.

"We also impress upon the ED to proceed with the investigation expeditiously. The investigation has been proceeding at a tardy pace and we expect to be updated on the status of the investigation within 4 weeks," the SC bench ruled.

The ED, which has been investigating money laundering charges against the Chandras' and Unitech Ltd, said both Sanjay and Ajay rendered the entire judicial custody otiose as they have been freely communicating, instructing their officials and disposing of their properties from inside the jail.

Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, who was appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, told the court that Sanjay and Ajay Chandra even tried to influence a dummy director, who was interrogated by the agency, from jail.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Unitech, said the Greenpark office has been disclosed to the ED. "I am actually entitled to default bail. The ED is making prejudiced arguments," he argued.

Vikas Singh requested the court to not get prejudiced. "The ED has all the power to act against me if required. They don't need to be validated by this court to act against me," he said.

Justice Chandrachud said the kind of facilities that have been granted to the accused in jail have not been given to others. "It's clear that some people in jail are far more "equal" than the others."

Vikas Singh said the ED report has not even been submitted to him. "Where are the assets tipping? Is this company like Amrapali, which has taken away money from people?" he asked. Singh, appearing for Sanjay Chandra, said he was ready to cooperate with the investigation. "I (Sanjay) have already completed half my sentence."

Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, who was appearing for Ajay Chandra, said he had not been given a copy of the ED report. "I am being kept in the dark. Give me the copy of the report and I'll be able to respond in my defence," he added.
On this, Justice Chandrachud said the contents of the case diary could not be disclosed to the accused at this stage.

The top court said it is not hearing the Chandras at present and would first hear the ED's submission.

On June 4, the top court had granted 15-day interim bail to Sanjay Chandra to attend the last rites of his father-in-law after which he had surrendered. On August 14 last year, it dismissed the bail plea of Chandra, who was a month earlier granted interim bail for 30 days on "humanitarian grounds" as both his parents had tested positive for COVID-19 and asked him to surrender within three days.

The apex court also dismissed the bail application of Chandra's brother Ajay Chandra, who has been in jail since August 2017. Both Sanjay and Ajay are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers' money. The SC in its October 2017 order had asked them to deposit Rs 750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017.

Also read: CBI books Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra, family in Rs 198 crore Canara Bank fraud

Also read: Assets worth Rs 197 crore attached in Unitech PMLA case