FERA: Court Acquits Chandraswami

New Delhi
FERA: Court Acquits Chandraswami
A Delhi court today absolved self-styled godman Chandraswami of FERA violation charges relating to deposit of 6,000 pounds before a UK court in a defamation suit nearly 24 years ago.

The Enforcement Directorate has failed to establish the alleged fact accused Nemi Chand Jain alias Chandraswami had the knowledge about deposit of the money in a defamation suit filed by him in 1986 in London against Lakhu Bhai Pathak, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate A K Pandey said.

The ED had lodged a case in 1996 under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) against the controversial 'tantrik' after receiving an information from CBI, which was probing his roles in various scams.

The court did not allow the plea of A K Vali and Naveen K Matta, prosecutors for the ED, that the fact that Chandraswami had filed the suit in the UK was sufficient to infer that he had the knowledge of depositing the money.

Non-disclosure of source and submission of foreign currency without prior permission from the RBI by an Indian national constituted an offence under the FERA, the ED has said in its complaint.

In the trial, spanning nearly 14 years, the ED examined seven prosecution witnesses and submitted documentary evidence regarding deposition of the UK pounds in the High Court of Justice, Queen' Bench Division, London.

The probe agency said Chandraswami lost the case and the UK court awarded the money to the solicitors of Pathak.

This information was provided to CBI by Pathak's London-based lawyer, David Charles Crank.

M/s Oswald Hickson Collier and Comany, a solicitors firm which was engaged by Chandraswmi, had deposited the money on his behalf as the security of cost, the agency had said.

During the probe, Chandraswami and his secretary K N Aggarwal said that they did not know exactly who paid the money on his behalf.

A plea in defence was taken that it was some devotees of the accused, which could be either Khassogi or one Kapoor, who had paid the money.

The court said that no direct evidence was produced which could prove that the accused either the knowledge or had submitted the foreign exchange.

The prosecutors had taken the plea the judicial documents of the UK court were credible evidence and it is presumed that a litigant, who himself had filed the case, would know its details.
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