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  • Writer's pictureTrivedi and Parashar (Advocates and Solicitors)

Judicial Updates -

B. DELHI HIGH COURT -

POWER TO GRANT BAIL ON MEDICAL GROUNDS UNDER THE PREVENTION OF MONEY LAUNDERING ACT, 2002 IS DISCRETIONARY, MUST BE EXERCISED IN A JUDICIOUS MANNER.



In the case of Sanjay Jain v. Enforcement Directorate [Bail Application No.. 3807/2022], the wife of the Applicant filed a regular bail application before the Delhi High Court in connection with Ct. C. No. 17/2021 titled as Directorate of Enforcement v. Amarendra Dhari Singh &Ors., pending before the Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi, praying for grant of interim bail to the Applicant on medical and humanitarian grounds for a period of 3 months alleging precarious health of the Applicant. The Court refused to release the Applicant on interim bail, however, directed the Director of AIIMS to immediately constitute a Medical Board of Doctors for evaluating Applicant’s medical condition.


The Delhi High Court placed reliance on the celebrated case of Pt. Parmanand Katara v. Union of India and Ors., (1989) 4 SCC 286 to hold that "The liberty of a person who is accused or convicted of an offence can be curtailed according to procedure established by law. However, right to health is also recognized as an important facet of Article 21 of the Constitution. Merely because a person is an under trial or for that matter even a convict, lodged in jail, this facet of right to life cannot be curtailed. It remains an obligation of the state to provide adequate and effective medical treatment to every person lodged in jail, whether under trial or a convict."


Upon a purposive interpretation of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2022 and relying on Kewal Krishan Kumar v. Enforcement Directorate, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 1547, the Court emphasized that not every health condition warrants the grant of bail on medical grounds. It highlighted that the first proviso of the provision specifies that a person may be released on bail if they are "sick" or "infirm." Furthermore, the Court observed "Plainly, the health of the petitioner has to be given primacy and it is his fundamental right to be given adequate and effective treatment whilst in jail. However, in case specialized or sustained treatment and care is necessary, having regard to the petitioner's medical condition which is not possible whilst in jail, then the petitioner will be entitled to the benefit of interim bail in terms of the first proviso to Section 45(1) of the PMLA."


It was also noted that the appointments for the diagnostic procedures of Applicant were scheduled almost after five months to one year, which showed that the Government Hospitals are overburdened and are not in a position to address the medical issues being faced by him whilst in jail, particularly on priority they deserve. Moreover, "In the absence of an opinion of the experts it is difficult for this Court to come to the conclusion as to whether it is a case for grant of intelim bail on the medical grounds. The Court cannot assume the role of an expert and make assessment of its own as regard the medical condition of the petitioner on the basis of medical records placed on the Court file."


The High Court directed the Jail Superintendent to furnish all medical records of the Petitioner to the Medical Board of Doctors and also granted liberty to the wife to furnish relevant medical records to the Board, with a copy to the Special Counsel for ED.

 
 

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