Applications for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code are subject to the conditions outlined in Section 45 of the PMLA
Fact and issue of the case
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order dated 02.03.202 1 passed by the High Court of Telangana at Hyderabad in Criminal Petition No. 1148/2021, by which, the High Court has allowed the said bail application and has granted the anticipatory bail in favour of respondent No. 1 herein and has directed to release him on bail in the event of his arrest in connection with F. No. ECIR/HYZO/36/2020 dated 15. 12.2020 on the file of the Assistant Director, Enforcement Directorate (hereinafter referred to as the ED), Government of India, Hyderabad, which was registered for the offence of money laundering under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (hereinafter referred to as the Act, 2002) and punishable under Section 4 of the said Act, the Directorate of Enforcement has preferred the present appeal.
A FIR was registered by Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Bhopal vide FIR No. 12/2019 dated 10.04.2019 wherein 20 persons/companies were named as suspected in the said scam. M/s Max Mantena Micro JV, Hyderabad was one among them.
As per the FIR, the Government of Madhya Pradesh eProcurement Portal was being run by MPSEDC. M/s Antares Systems Limited, Bangalore and M/s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) were given the contract for the period of 5 years for the maintenance & operation of the said portal. Some of the officials of MPSEDC in collusion with the companies entrusted with maintenance and testing of the portals namely M/s Osmo IT Solutions and M/s Antares Systems Ltd, illegally accessed the eTender portal and rigged the bidding process to suit a few private bidders for huge amounts of bribe considerations.
As per the investigating agency, the preliminary investigation by the Police established that various etenders were illegally accessed and bids of a few companies were manipulated to illegally make the bids of those concerns as the lowest one.
Apart from tenders mentioned in the first preliminary charge sheet filed by the EOW Bhopal namely No. 91, 93, 94 (Water Resource Dept); 2 tenders vide Nos. 49985 & 49982 of PWD; Tender no 49813, Tender No. 786 of MPRDC; and Tenders vide Nos. 10030 & 10044, it was suspected that many other tenders have also been tampered using the same modus operandi. M/s Mantena Group of Companies, Hyderabad, was suspected to be a major beneficiary of this etender scam. As per the EOW charge sheet, a joint venture of the Mantena Group known as M/s Max Mantena Micro JV is the direct beneficiary of a tampered etender No. 10030 worth Rs. 1020 Crore.
According to the investigating agency, the investigation into the said FIR for the offences under Sections 120B, 420, 471 IPC and Section 7 r/w Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act is going on and the said offences are scheduled offences under the Act, 2002. The ED has initiated money laundering investigation in File No. ECIR/HYZO/36/2020.
Observation of the court
We have heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respective parties at length. At the outset, it is required to be noted that respondent No. 1 is apprehending his arrest in connection with the complaint/case by the ED for the offence of money laundering under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and punishable under Section 4 of the said Act. An enquiry/investigation is going on against respondent No. 1 for the scheduled offence in connection with FIR No. 12/20
Considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case and the reasoning given by the High Court and as observed hereinabove, the rigour of Section 45 of the Act, 2002 shall be applicable even with respect to the application under Section 438 Cr.PC and therefore, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court granting anticipatory bail to respondent No. 1 herein in connection with F. No. ECIR/HYZO/36/2020 dated 15.12.2020 is unsustainable. Consequently, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court granting anticipatory bail to respondent No. 1 is hereby quashed and set aside. Respondent No. 1 be dealt with in accordance with law. However, it is observed and made clear that after respondent No. 1 is arrested, if he files any regular bail application, the same be considered in accordance with law and on its own merits and considering the material collected during enquiry/investigation of the case. Present appeal is accordingly allowed. No costs.
In the result, appeal of the assessee is allowed and ruled in favour of the assessee