New Delhi, March 1: The Supreme Court today granted bail to Madhu Koda in a money laundering case, but the temporary reprieve will have little meaning for the former chief minister who would have to remain in jail in connection with two other cases pending against him.
A bench of justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi also granted bail to co-accused Vikas Kumar Sinha who unlike Koda need not remain in jail. But, while granting bail to the two, the apex court imposed the same conditions fixed in the Sanjay Chandra 2G case on November 23, 2011.
That means the duo were directed to surrender passports to the trial court, not tamper with the evidence — the prosecution shall be free to move the court for cancellation of bail if at any point of time the accused tried to interfere with investigations or witnesses, the bench said.
Besides fulfilling the conditions, the two accused will have to give surety to the satisfaction of the trial court.
However, Koda would have to remain in jail as he has not been granted bail in two other cases relating to alleged income tax evasion and bribery in the implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Project in Palamu and Dhumka districts.
While Enforcement Directorate was represented by additional solicitor general Harin Rawal and counsel Ketan Chawla, Koda’s case was argued by counsels Shekhar Naphade and Anshuman Singh.
The ED had earlier opposed Koda’s bail on the ground that it was in the process of interrogating Anil Bastawade, a co-accused holed up Jakarata, Indonesia, and sought 45 days time to complete the probe.
But today when the matter came up for hearing, Naphade told the court that the ED had informed the trial court that the probe was completed. Hence, he said Koda was entitled to the bail.
The ED, too, did not oppose the bail following which the bench agreed.
The former chief minister had in his bail petition contended that he had spent more than 40 months in jail since August 2009 and no purpose would be served by keeping him under in prolonged incarceration. He also promised to co-operate with the authorities in future investigations.
Earlier, a separate bench of justice Aftab Alam and Ranajan Prakash Desai granted bail to former Jharkhand ministers Anosh Ekka and Hari Narayan Rai for four months in connection with cases pending against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act(PMLA).
The bench had said the trial court would convert the provisional bail into a regular bail subject to their conduct during the four-month period. It granted the bail to the accused considering the fact that they had been in jail for nearly 40 months (since August 17, 2009), while the maximum punishment they faced if convicted was seven years.
The bench also directed the duo to attend the trial in Ranchi regularly, but restrained them from staying in the state capital. In addition to Ekka and Rai, others lodged at the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi include former water resources minister Kamlesh Singh, former health minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Koda.
While the former chief minister was arrested from Chaibasa in West Singhbhum on September 30, 2009, Singh was arrested by vigilance sleuths from Hussainabad in Palamau district on November 30, 2009.
Shahi surrendered before a CBI court, Ranchi, on August 6, 2011.
The former chief minister has been charged for owning assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, money laundering and accepting bribes to fund his election campaign.
Singh has been charged for owning disproportionate assets and money laundering, while Shahi has been accused of receiving kickbacks from medicine suppliers.