SC grants interim bail to Satyendar Jain on medical grounds

May 26, 2023 01:26 PM IST

Satyendar Jain was put on oxygen support and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Lok Nayak Hospital (LNH) on Thursday after he fell in a bathroom in Tihar jail

The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail until July 11 to former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain on medical grounds, turning down the Enforcement Directorate’s contention that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader‘s health status must be examined first by a panel of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital.

Satyendar Jain. (PTI)
Satyendar Jain. (PTI)

The reprieve for Jain in a money laundering case came a day after he was put on oxygen support and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital (LNH) for treatment after he fell in a bathroom in Tihar jail. Doctors at LNH, a Delhi government facility, said on Thursday that Jain was put on pain medicines for temporary relief and that they were formulating a treatment plan for him. Jain, who helmed several important portfolios as a minister, including health and prison, was arrested by ED last year. This is the first time that Jain will be released in over a year.

Granting interim bail to Jain for a little over six weeks, a bench of justices JK Maheshwari and PS Narasimha said that the court was granting him relief only on medical grounds and that it would examine his latest medical reports on July 10 to consider further orders.

While ED, through additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju, claimed that LNH’s medical reports could be fudged since Jain has served as Delhi’s health minister, the bench retorted: “It’s (medical reports) not something that has come overnight. It has happened over a period of time.”

The top court, which will hear the matter next on July 10, restrained Jain from talking to the media while granting him bail. It directed him against influencing witnesses, tampering with evidence, or leaving Delhi.

During the proceedings on Friday, ED said that it cannot trust LNH’s report, especially in the backdrop of Jain’s conduct in withdrawing a bail plea in October when the agency pressed that he should be examined by doctors at AIIMS.

“He was the health minister. He was also the jail minister. So, he knows doctors and officials in jail. All these reports could be fudged and cannot be relied upon. Let him be examined by a panel of doctors from AIIMS or another hospital that is not under the Delhi government,” argued Raju.

The ASG said that Jain chose to withdraw a similar bail plea on medical grounds last year when the agency insisted that he should be examined by a panel of doctors at AIIMS. “His conduct has been such that his statement has to be taken not with a pinch of salt but a huge quantity of salt...we will concede if the report by AIIMS is in favour. But why should he be granted bail if the report is incorrect? If his health is really bad, he should not be afraid of an examination at AIIMS,” Raju said.

The law officer pointed out that Jain was under ED’s custody on May 13 when he appeared fine but from the next day, he claimed to have developed symptoms, giving rise to suspicion regarding the authenticity of the medical reports in question.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Jain, said that his client’s medical reports certified he requires immediate medical attention. “Lok Nayak is the mandatory referral hospital of Tihar jail. The medical reports do not lie and cannot be refuted. Is this degree of opposition justified on his bail application filed on humanitarian grounds?”

Citing Jain’s medical records from Delhi’s GB Pant Hospital, Singhvi added: “The bail plea is on humanitarian grounds. He can go back to jail after receiving medical attention. He is not running away. He has lost 33 kgs. He is on a surgery list for vertebrae.”

To this, Raju replied that Jain has lost weight since he has not been eating. “He is a Jain and Jains are known for fasting. He has been fasting too,” said the ASG.

The bench, at this point, said that it is considering Jain’s plea purely on medical grounds as it proceeded to grant him interim bail for six weeks.

ASG Raju then requested the bench to order Jain’s medical examination by a panel of doctors at AIIMS during the period of interim bail. The bench responded: “We can consider independent evaluation after going through the reports that he will submit on the next date.”

Jain approached the top court after a trial court in November and the Delhi high court on April 6 refused to order his release on bail. Both courts emphasised that Jain is an influential person and the evidence on records was such that the grounds for granting bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) - the accused is not guilty and that he is not likely to commit an offence while on bail – were not fulfilled in the present case.

Jain claimed he is facing extreme health problems as he complained of facing depression, a patch on his lungs after suffering from Covid-19 last year, acute lumbar pain and associated vertigo, degeneration of intervertebral discs, and sleep apnea.

Jain has been accused of laundering money through four companies allegedly linked to him. Subsequent to the probe, ED last year attached assets worth 4.81 crore belonging to these companies.

The ED probe began pursuant to a 2017 case registered against Jain by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Jain has been on bail in the CBI case. He has denied all charges, and the AAP has claimed the case is a result of “political vendetta” by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

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