New Delhi, June 14: Delhi’s Patiala House Court recently granted statutory bail to Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah in a money laundering case under PMLA. Despite the grant of bail, he will remain in custody as there are other cases pending against him.

He was arrested in 2017 in this case. He sought statutory bail on the grounds that he has undergone more than half of the maximum sentence for an offence under PMLA.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Dheeraj Mor granted bail to Shabir Ahmad Shah under Section 436 A Cr.PC on furnishing a personal bond of Rs one lakh and one surety bond in the same amount.

While granting bail, the court has imposed several conditions, including that he will not leave the country without the prior permission of the court.

While granting bail, the trial court referred to the judgement of Supreme court in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary’s case.

ASJ Mor said, “The applicant is not required to satisfy the mandatory twin conditions of bail as contained in Section 45 PMLA, as he has been in custody in this case for 6 years and 10 months, which is way more than half of the total prescribed maximum punishment of 7 years.”

“The total prescribed maximum punishment of 7 years shall be over within one and a half months from today, if he does not succeed in the present application,” the judge said in the order passed on June 7.

The court noted that Shah is stated to be in custody in other cases unrelated to the scheduled/predicate offences.

“Admittedly, the said cases are very serious in nature. However, that cannot be a sufficient ground for declining the present statutory bail application, all the more, when he has not been convicted in any of the said offences,” the court said.

It further said that Even if he is granted bail in this case, he is not likely to be released from jail for the other said offences before July 24, 2024, i.e. the date on which the maximum punishment of 7 years in the present case expires for him as an under-trial prisoner.

The court also observed that co-accused Mohd. Aslam Wani has been acquitted in all predicate offences except that under the Arms Act.

An application under Section 436A CrPC was moved on behalf of Shabir Ahmad Shah for seeking his regular bail on the ground that he has already suffered more than half of the period of the maximum punishment prescribed in the offence of money laundering punishable under Sections 3/4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the offence for which he is being tried.

Advocates Prashant Prakash and Qausar Khan appeared for Shah. They submitted that he has been in custody in this case since July 26, 2017 and he would complete his entire 7 years of maximum imprisonment as an under-trial prisoner in this case on July 25, 2024, within one and a half months from today.

The counsels argued that, as per the Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary vs.. Union of India case judgement , for disposal of the present bail application under Section 436A CrPC, the applicant is not required to qualify for the mandatory twin tests contained in Section 45 PMLA.

Advocate N K Matta, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for ED, opposed the plea on the ground that the allegations against him are grave and serious in nature, which entails severe punishment.

It was argued that if released on bail, he may run away from justice, as based upon his previous conduct, there is a propensity that he may flee from the country.

ED’s counsel further contended that the applicant was found involved in the commission of serious crimes and the generation of huge amounts of proceeds from crime from various countries, including Pakistan, to carry out unrest in Kashmir and he was also found involved in terror financing activities. Therefore, if released on bail, he may again indulge in similar criminal activities.(ANI)