Corruption case against former CBI judge: ED arrests M3M promoters Basant, Pankaj Bansal
The case had been registered against judge Sudhir Parmar, his nephew, Ajay Parmar and director of real estate company, M3M India Private Limited, Roop Bansal, by the Haryana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in April
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested promoters of the real estate development company, M3M group, Basant Bansal and his son Pankaj Bansal while investigating the money laundering facet in a corruption case registered against a former judicial officer presiding over Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED courts at Panchkula.
The case had been registered against judge Sudhir Parmar, his nephew, Ajay Parmar and director of real estate company, M3M India Private Limited, Roop Bansal, by the Haryana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in April.
Parmar, an additional sessions judge rank judicial officer was also holding the charge of special CBI judge before he was suspended.
The arrest of Basant and his son Pankaj Bansal is the outcome of ED investigations being conducted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after registration of an enforcement case information report (ECIR) by the central agency based on the April 17 first information report (FIR) registered by ACB under sections 7, 8, 11 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code — all scheduled offences under the PMLA — for offences relating to public servant being bribed and criminal misconduct by a public servant.
ED officials said every scheduled offence is a predicate offence and the occurrence of the same is a prerequisite for initiating investigation into the offence of money laundering. The ED, it is learnt, is seeking information from the Haryana ACB in this regard.
The agency had on June 8 arrested M3M India director and Basant’s brother Roop Bansal in a separate PMLA clase. The investigations against Bansal, which were initiated based on multiple FIRs registered against the IREO group, revealed that a huge amount of money running in hundreds of crores was siphoned off through M3M group also.
The Delhi high court on June 9 had granted interim relief (from arrest) to Roop Bansal’s brother, Basant Bansal and Basant’s son Pankaj Bansal till July 5 in the IREO matter.
Apex court ruling strengthens ED move
The ED’s move to step in the matter has gained strength from a May 12 Supreme Court ruling where a bench headed by justice Krishna Murari held in case of an offence of corruption, the criminal activity and the generation of the proceeds of crime are like Siamese twins.
The SC said receipt of bribe money is an act of money laundering. Deciding a batch of criminal appeals, the apex court said once information relating to the “acquisition” of huge amounts of illegal gratification in the matter of public employment has come into public domain, it is the duty of ED to register an information report.
“This is because acquisition is an activity amounting to money laundering and illegal gratification acquired by a public servant represents proceeds of crime, generated through a criminal activity in respect of a scheduled offence. Therefore, it does not require any expedition, much less a fishing expedition for someone to say that the receipt of bribe money is an act of money laundering,’’ the top court held.
The graft case against former CBI judge
Haryana judicial officer Sudhir Parmar, suspended on April 27, after being booked on April 17, has been accused of alleged favouritism to real estate developers Roop Bansal and his brother Basant Bansal of M3M and Lalit Goyal of IREO Group, as per the ACB’s FIR.
The Bansals and Goyal have been named as accused by the CBI and the ED in cases pending before the special CBI court — a court that was presided over by Parmar.
Parmar held charge of the CBI court in Panchkula, and was also special judge under the PMLA, Panchkula.
Parmar, Roop Bansal did not respond to text messages sent on May 10 seeking a comment. Sameer Chaudhary, the lawyer for the real estate development company IREO, in an email on May 11 night denied allegations of any misconduct or wrongdoing and participation in any offence, as alleged or otherwise.
The email sent to HT by a public relations firm said IREO or its officials or persons associated with it did not approach the Haryana judicial officer in any manner: “The proceedings before the court were held as per the due process of law. IREO has full faith in the investigating authorities of the country to look into evidence and showcase the truth.”
An additional district and sessions rank judge, Parmar was presiding over the trial of several CBI and ED cases involving real estate developers, retired bureaucrats and politicians. He was questioned by an ACB team in an April 18 morning raid at his official residence in Panchkula and placed under suspension by the HC chief justice on April 27 after an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court (SC) was filed by the HC seeking the permission of the apex court to transfer Parmar “in view of gravity and seriousness of the matter”.
The FIR was registered on the basis of “reliable source information”, WhatsApp chats and audio recordings of the accused. According to the FIR (number 6) “reliable source(-based) information” disclosed instances of grave misconduct, abuse of official position and demand/acceptance of undue advantage/bribe from the accused in cases pending in Parmar’s court.
ED registered a case under the PMLA and arrested Lalit Goyal, the vice-chairperson and managing director of realty giant IREO Group in November 2021 for allegedly cheating home buyers and others.
In February 2022, the agency presented a prosecution complaint (challan) against Goyal in the special PMLA court in Panchkula. “The source provided screenshots of WhatsApp chats between Parmar and another person in which he demands ₹5 crore to ₹7 crore for helping the M3M owners in ED cases. In the same chat, the person says that ₹5 crore has already been given to Parmar by the accused of IREO case,” the FIR said.
The FIR said in another audio recording, Parmar is asking someone for ₹1.5 crore ( ₹50 lakh per head) as illegal gratification for meeting the accused. It added that in three other recordings provided by the source, Parmar, always spoke to Bansal and other accused of M3M and IREO using Ajay Parmar’s mobile phone and on WhatsApp and FaceTime calls
“More audio recordings provided by the source reveal that Parmar, during a conversation with an unknown person, admits/claims that he did not let Roop Bansal become an accused in ED cases. In another recording pertaining to property worth ₹1,200 crore, Parmar claims he has spoken to Sunil Yadav (officer of ED) and he would not allow it to be attached provided some justification for a transaction was shown,” the FIR said.
As per the FIR, audio recordings also contain conversation of Parmar with one VP Gupta (a removed/dismissed judge of Haryana) wherein they can purportedly be heard strategising to show favour with a view to extort money from former IAS officer TC Gupta, who was the then director town and country planning and who apparently is an accused in some case of CBI/ED.