Delhi court grants Jacqueline Fernandez bail in ₹200-cr extortion case
Granting temporary relief to Fernandez, special judge Shailendra Malik allowed her interim bail plea at a personal and surety bond ₹50,000.
New Delhi A Delhi court on Monday granted interim bail to Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez in connection with her alleged involvement in which Aditi Singh, the wife of ex-Fortis promoter Shivinder Singh, was allegedly duped of ₹200 crore. Conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar is the main accused in the case.
Granting temporary relief to Fernandez, special judge Shailendra Malik allowed her interim bail plea at a personal and surety bond ₹50,000. The court also sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the 37-year-old actor’s regular bail plea and posted the matter for October 22.
Advocate Prashant Patil, appearing for Fernandez, told the court that she has always cooperated with investigation agencies and has appeared before them on all the dates when she was summoned. “She has handed over all the information to the best of her ability to the ED,” he submitted.
Earlier on August 31, the court had issued a summons to Fernandez to appear before it physically on September 26 after taking cognizance of the ED’s supplementary charge sheet filed against her. The charge sheet, filed on August 17 in the ₹200 crore extortion case, named the actor as an accused.
Meanwhile, in her regular bail plea filed by advocate Patil and Aman Nandrajog, Fernandez denied “unity of design with Sukesh” and said that she was herself a victim of the circumstances and criminal acts committed by the conman and his associates.
The petition has said that even though she has never denied receipt of gifts, at no point of time did she had knowledge that these were proceeds of crime “on account of the deceitful and duplicitous conduct of Sukesh due to which she has suffered, and continues to suffer, tremendous hardship”.
“In fact, Jacqueline is another victim of the criminal acts committed by the main accused and his associates, who consistently lied about his real identity and exercised undue influence over the applicant’s personal and professional life either by showering her (and her family) with expensive gifts or claiming that he had done so I would do so, without ever mentioning their source,” the bail plea read, adding that she was “misled” in accepting the gifts.
Fernandez, a Sri Lankan citizen, has said that she is a tax-paying resident of India since 2009 and her “professional reputation and future work commitments” were “intrinsically linked” to the country, adding that she is co-operating and participating in attachment proceedings in connection with the present case.
“There is no risk of her leaving Indian jurisdiction without proper authorisation as there is a Look Out Circular opened against her and subsisting,” the petition read.
Last week, the actor was questioned for over seven hours by the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing -- the second time she had been summoned for questioning by the Delhi Police for her alleged role in the case.
Amid the probe, the actor had admitted before the officers that Chandrashekhar had paid a huge amount of money to fashion designer Leepakshi to design exclusive costumes for her, HT had reported.
Her friendship with Chandrashekhar -- accused in more than 10 cases -- started on WhatsApp in January 2021, and she had secretly met the conman on a number of occasions at a well-known hotel in Chennai and other places, she had told the officers, the report further highlighted.
In its charge sheet against Fernandez, the ED has said that the actor consciously chose to overlook Chandrashekhar’s criminal past, adding that she was directly/indirectly involved in the ₹200 crore scam.
ED has said that the actress “herself admitted to have found various articles on Google search on Sukesh Chandrashekhar reflecting his criminal antecedents”, even though she has tried to come out clean with innocence of her relationship with the conman booked in three different cases of fraud.
“Despite knowing criminal antecedents of Sukesh, Jacqueline Fernandez received gifts and money both in cash and banking channel from Sukesh from January 2021 to July 2021 till he was arrested by the Delhi Police in the present matter. Jacqueline Fernandez never revealed the truth of the financial transactions with Sukesh Chandrasekhar and always concealed facts till confronted with him...,” the charge sheet read.
ED said that during investigation they found that both Sukesh and Fernandez were in collusion with each other and tried to support each other during the course of confrontation with the evidence.
The Delhi Police is also expected to question Leepakshi to “investigate the money trail of gifts presented to the actor”.