Supreme Court Shields Odisha Official From Arrest In DA Case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim protection from arrest to Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officer, Bijaya Ketan Sahoo, in connection with a money laundering case lodged against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for possession of assets disproportionate to the known source of income.

Issuing notice to ED on anticipatory bail plea, a vacation bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Rajesh Bindal asked Sahoo to appear before the special PMLA court within two weeks and furnish bail bonds in terms of Section 88 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure), news agency IANS reported.

Earlier, the Orissa High Court, in its May 10 order, refused to grant anticipatory bail, saying a prima facie case stands against the bureaucrat since he was involved in the acquisition of the properties in dealing with the “proceeds of crime”.

However, a bench of Justice Chittaranjan Das of the High Court had directed that in the event Sahoo appears before the Special Court and moves for grant of regular bail, the same shall be considered on its own merits.

Against this, Sahoo moved a plea before the apex court contending that assets acquired by him during the period of alleged offence are not disproportionate to his known sources of income and hence there is no question of application of the PMLA, 2002 in the instant case since the scheduled offence is not made out.

“Since the petitioner was not arrested during investigation, there is no justification to remand him in custody on his appearance in court pursuant to the summons… if a person has been enlarged and free for many years and has not even been arrested during investigation, to suddenly direct his arrest and to be incarcerated merely because charge sheet/complaint has been filed would be contrary to the governing principles for grant of bail,” the report quoted the plea filed through advocate Praveena Gautam as saying.

The ED had initiated a probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after an FIR was registered with Cuttack’s Vigilance Police Station against Odisha Financial Official Nalini Prusty, her husband Sahoo, and other family members for possession of disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 5 crore.

The enquiry further showed that the bureaucrat couple had acquired six plots and flats and had constructed a triple-storied building at Bhubaneswar’s Chandrasekharpur in the name of their relative who had no independent source of income.

On the basis of the ED’s complaint, the PMLA court in Bhubaneswar had issued a summons to Sahoo for his appearance.

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