Delhi HC Seeks ED Stand on Plea by Sukesh Chandrashekhar Against Money Laundering Charges

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Enforcement Directorate to state its stand on a plea by alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar challenging the framing of charges against him under the anti-money laundering law in connection with a 2017 Election Commission bribery case.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma heard the counsel for the petitioner as well as the agency, and said the matter “needs further consideration” while seeking written submissions from the parties.

“Both of you file written submissions. I am not issuing notice (at this stage),” said the judge.

The counsel for the petitioner said that in view of the stay on proceedings in the scheduled offence in the matter, the trial court could not have framed charges under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

“Scheduled offence is the base. When it goes, everything goes,” said the lawyer.

Counsel for the Enforcement Directorate said that the petition was a “dilatory tactic” and if the petitioner’s argument is accepted, it would have “wide ramifications”.

The agency lawyer contended that under the law, any protection in relation to the scheduled offence would have no impact on PMLA offences except in certain cases like acquittal or discharge.

It was also said that the charges are framed when there is a “grave suspicion” and a stay order does not “wipe off” a scheduled offence.

The money laundering probe arises from a 2017 Delhi police case which alleged that Chandrashekhar allegedly took money from former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran to bribe Election Commission officials to get the AIADMK ‘two leaves’ symbol for the VK Sasikala faction in a by-election to the R K Nagar assembly seat in Tamil Nadu.

In 2019, the high court stayed the trial against Dhinakaran and Chandrashekhar in the bribery case.

The trial court had framed charges against Chandrashekhar under PMLA in October last year after he was arrested earlier that year while he was in jail in connection with another case.

Chandrashekhar is also facing proceedings for allegedly cheating and extorting money from some prominent people, including individuals like former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh’s wife Aditi Singh.

The matter would be heard next on April 5.

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