The Supreme Court Tuesday said a larger three-judge bench will examine whether the day on which an accused is remanded to custody should be included while calculating the 60-day period for the grant of default bail. A two-judge bench comprising justices SK Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy also said it will request Chief Justice S A Bobde to constitute the larger bench at the earliest.
The legal issue arose during the hearing of an Enforcement Directorate appeal against a Bombay High Court order granting bail to former
promoters, Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan, in a Yes Bank money laundering case being probed by the agency.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Wadhawans, told the apex court that his clients have been in jail for over 11 months, and he sought early disposal of the plea.
He said when a conflict in law is there the decision should be in favour of the accused.
The apex court said the question of interim bail should also be decided by the three-judge bench.
“We will try to frame the issues at the earliest,” the bench said.
In September last year, the top court had stayed a Bombay High Court order granting bail to former DHFL promoters.
The top court issued notice to the accused on the plea of the Enforcement Directorate against the High Court order of bail.
The Bombay High Court had on August 20, 2020 granted bail to the Wadhawan brothers stating that mandatory default bail is the sequel to non-filing of charge sheet.
The HC had granted them bail as it held that the ED failed to file its chargesheet in the case within the stipulated 60-day period.
The central probe agency had then filed a special leave petition before the apex court.
The federal probe agency had said that it was not in violation of the procedure and had filed a part of the charge sheet through email, a day before the 60-day period ended.
The chargesheet was filed in physical form by the ED on July 13.
As per Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an accused can be detained for a maximum of 90 days for a crime punishable with death, life imprisonment or a sentence of over 10 years. If the investigation relates to any other offence, the accused can be detained for 60 days.
If the investigative agencies do not complete their investigation within these time limits, the arrested person is entitled to ‘default bail’.
The Wadhawans, the former promoters of the Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFC), however, were not released on bail as they are in CBI custody at present.
They were arrested by the ED on May 14 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had slapped PMLA charges against the two and in this case after studying a CBI FIR filed in March in connection with alleged suspicious loans granted by Yes Bank and the “quid pro quo” between its co-promoter Rana Kapoor and the Wadhawans.
According to the CBI and ED, Yes Bank invested around Rs 3,700 crore in short term non-convertible debentures of DHFL between April and June 2018.