In another controversial judgment, justice Muttaci Jeyapaul of the Punjab and Haryana high court has provided relief and quashed preventive detention orders of two New Delhi-based businessmen brothers allegedly involved in illegal foreign exchange transaction through a staggering 1,000-crore Hawala network. This is despite the fact that earlier the Supreme Court as well as a coordinate bench of the high court had refused to entertain the accused’s petitions.
HT had on April 6 reported that how justice Jeyapaul in one of the cases had not only accepted direct surrender of accused industrialist Paramjit Singh Chahal in the multi-crore international drug racket case pursued through his senior counsel Vikram Chaudhri but also granted him bail, in a break from the set practice of law. Later, chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had taken away the powers of hearing bail matters from justice Jeyapaul, senior most judge in the criminal roster.
The 46-page latest judgment came on March 28 on the petition filed by accused businessmen-brothers Sat Pal Jain and Bimal Kumar Jain through their senior counsel Vikram Chaudhri. The petitioners had sought quashing of unexecuted preventive detention orders issued by the central economic intelligence bureau, ministry of finance, under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) on June 2, 2010.
Upon receipt of infor mation from the directorate of enforcement, New Delhi, that an organised syndicate headed by Naresh Kumar Jain, petitioners’ brother, was involved in illegal foreign trade transactions in lieu of payment and receipt of the Indian currency through a wide Hawala network, searches were carried out at various places in New Delhi in September and November 2009 and huge Indian and foreign currency, documents and articles were recovered.
Sat Pal Jain and Bimal Kumar Jain were allegedly actively involved in the syndicate with their brother Naresh Kumar Jain who had stayed in Dubai from 1995 to May 2009.
Jain brothers had earlier approached the Supreme Court wherein initially, execution of the detention was stayed.
However, the writ petitions were dismissed as withdrawn on October 1 last year.
PREVIOUS HIGH COURT ORDER
Thereafter both accused brothers approached the Punjab and Haryana high court for quashing of preventive detention orders at pre-execution stage.
But the court headed by justice Jitendra Chauhan dismissed the petitions on December 21 last year with strong observations. “It is pertinent to note that the petitioner is a permanent resident of state of Delhi, held his passport on the address at Delhi, the offence allegedly was committed at Delhi as well as the impugned order (detention order) was passed at Delhi, the special reasons for approaching this court and not approaching the Delhi courts suggests that he has not approached this court with clean hands,” said justice Chauhan.
SAME GROUNDS FOR NEW PETITION
Even then the petitioners did not surrender and just after 24 days, again approached the high court on January 15 “on the same facts and grounds” and the petition was now listed before the court headed by justice Jeyapaul.
The judge, on February 28, directed the petitioners to surrender before the senior superintendent of police, Karnal, (territorial jurisdiction of the HC) on March 4 and just after two days of arrest, justice Jeyapaul granted bail to the
accused on March 6 and finally on March 28 quashed the preventive detention orders.
The court said since the petitioners’ birth place was at Karnal, their father was living at Karnal and they had surrendered at Karnal, thus territorial jurisdiction of the high court is made.
FLAGRANT BREACH OF PROPRIETY
Senior advocate Anupam Gupta while reacting to the judgment said, “This case does appear to be a serious case of forum-shopping. I am constrained to observe that justice Jeyapaul has acted in flagrant breach of propriety.” He added that it is apparent from the judgment that justice Jeyapaul “literally created” territorial jurisdiction for the high court at Chandigarh by directing the Jain brothers to surrender before the Karnal SSP.
The documents relied upon by the judge (complaints of petitioners before the National Human Rights Commission and ministry of finance and additional chief metropolitan magistrate, Rohini) clearly show that the Jain brothers are residents of Delhi, doing business in Delhi, he said.
CENTRE TO CHALLENGE JUDGMENT
The central government’s senior panel counsel Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu, who contested the case in the high court, said the Centre is going to file a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the judgment.