In a setback to Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar, arrested in a money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate, a Delhi court Wednesday dismissed his bail plea saying his release at the crucial stage of investigation may hamper the investigation.
Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar declined to grant any relief to Shivakumar, currently lodged in Tihar jail, while noting that he is an influential person and may influence the witnesses or tamper with documents.
"The investigation in the present case is still at the initial stage. In the course of arguments, the ED has shown certain documents like the list of 317 bank accounts and other documents of properties etc which show that investigation is still at the crucial stage of examining the documents and their nexus with the assets of the applicant/accused," the judge said.
The applicant is an influential person and the apprehension that he may "influence the witnesses or have some tampering with documents", cannot be treated as unfounded, he said.
"The investigating agency must have a full, fair and free chance to investigate in depth so that it can reach to a logical conclusion. The release of the applicant at such crucial stage of investigation may hamper the investigation. Therefore, I am of the considered view that the applicant is not entitled for bail at this stage of investigation," the judge said.
The court said that no doubt that while considering the bail application court has to be conscious of the liberty of an individual but it cannot ignore the interest of society as such.
"A balance has to be struck between the two. The investigation in the present case is still at the initial stage," it said.
The court also perused the medical report of Shivakumar and noted that though he has undergone angiography, his condition is stable and has been advised medication.
It directed the jail superintendent to ensure that all his medical needs are attended immediately and in case of emergency he may be taken to RML hospital or AIIMS at the earliest.
"Medical ground by itself considering the nature of the offence and the stage of investigation, is not considered a justified ground for bail. The bail application is dismissed," the court said.
The ED had in September last year registered the money laundering case against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
The case was based on a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department against them last year before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and 'hawala' transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his alleged associate S K Sharma of transporting huge amount of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with the help of three other accused.