The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea by Maharashtra Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik to release him in a case of money laundering.
A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said: “We will not interfere. It is too nascent a stage to interfere…We can’t interfere with the due process at this stage.”
The bench asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Malik, to move the competent court with the bail application. “The special court can consider the bail application,” said the bench.
Sibal vehemently argued that there was no prima facie case and there was no predicate offence, no FIR on forgery, and added, “How does Prevention of Money Laundering Act be applied?”
Sibal said, “How do they arrest me in 2022 for something, which happened in 1993…where I am not in the picture at all?”
Sibal added that the special court is not going to grant his client bail with a 5000-page charge sheet filed in the matter. “The Arnab Goswami judgment is in my favour,” Sibal submitted
Refusing to entertain Malik’s plea, the bench said: “We are not inclined to exercise jurisdiction under Article 136 when the investigation is at the nascent stage.”
The bench clarified that the observation of the high court on merits should not come in the way of parties taking recourse to the rights available under the law.
Malik, moved the top court challenging the Bombay High Court, which declined his interim release in a habeas corpus petition. Malik has claimed that his arrest was completely illegal.
On March 15, the Bombay High Court rejected Malik’s interim application seeking immediate release in a case of money laundering registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Malik was arrested on February 23 based on an FIR registered against terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
The high court held that Malik was arrested by the ED, and subsequently remanded to custody following due process and there was no reason for it to pass any interim order for his release.
Denying relief to Malik, the high court had said that just because the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court’s order remanding him in custody is not in his favour, it does not make it illegal or wrong.
Malik’s plea contended that his petition was strictly on the law, and the high court could not have given a prima facie finding regarding Section 3 of PMLA, without giving reasons.
The ED has alleged that Munira Plumber’s prime property in Kurla, worth Rs 300 crore as per the current market value, was usurped by Malik through Solidus Investments Pvt. Ltd, a company purportedly owned by his family members. The ED has claimed that this was done in connivance with Dawood’s sister Haseena Parkar, her bodyguard Salim Patel and 1993 bomb blasts convict Sardar Shah Wali Khan.
In his plea in the top court, Malik claimed his arrest was illegal and violated his fundamental rights, as well as statutory provisions, and he was entitled to writ of habeas corpus.