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Delhi HC refuses further extension of interim medical bail for Unitech founder

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to extend the interim bail, sought on medical grounds by real estate firm Unitech’s founder, Ramesh Chandra, in a money laundering case.

Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta directed Chandra to surrender before the Jail Superintendent on Saturday, stressing the seriousness of the charges against him.

Last year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had said that it had attached a 39.83 per cent share of 4.79-acre land forming parts of Uniworld City township in Chennai’s Nallambakkam in a case involving the group.

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“The value of the land attached is worth Rs 125.06 crore. Total proceeds of crime of Rs 7,612 crore has been detected till now in this case,” the ED had said.

The land is owned by Unitech Infopark Ltd in which 39.83 per cent shares are held by Narnil Infosolutions Private Ltd (a benami company of Chandras, the promoters of Unitech Group).

The ED had initiated a PMLA investigation based on various FIRs registered by Delhi Police and the CBI over complaints by home buyers against Unitech Group, its promoters and others.

On Friday, Justice Mendiratta noted that Chandra is accused of serious offences involving the diversion of over Rs 5,000 crore belonging to home buyers, leaving them duped and without shelter.

It said that Chandra cannot claim bail solely for treatment at a specialised hospital of his choice as a matter of right.

While ordering Chandra to surrender, the court directed the jail authorities to ensure that he receives the necessary medical treatment, as per jail rules, to safeguard his health.

The court said that in case of any aggravation of Chandra’s medical condition or if circumstances warrant, he should be immediately referred to a specialised government hospital for necessary treatment.

It court clarified that Chandra must undergo medical evaluation at least twice a week to ensure continuity of medical treatment.

Chandra, who is over 85 years old and reportedly in poor health, was initially granted interim bail on July 28, 2022, which was extended several times due to his medical condition. Chandra’s counsel had sought further extension of the interim bail citing his advanced age and health issues requiring continuous monitoring and treatment.

However, the ED opposed the extension, arguing that Chandra’s sickness was not life-threatening according to a medical board report from the AIIMS.

The court stressed that bail on medical grounds under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is granted only when the sickness is serious and life-threatening, and the treatment required cannot be provided in jail facilities.

Considering the gravity of the offences and medical opinion, the court denied a further extension of Chandra’s interim medical bail.

The ED investigation revealed that the Chandras of Unitech had invested the proceeds of crime to the tune of USD 15,087,114 (present value Rs 125.06 crore) through Narnil Infosolutions Private Ltd into Unitech Infopark Ltd in 2009-10 by acquiring 39.83 per cent shares of the said company.

“Investigation revealed that Narnil Infosolutions Private Ltd is beneficially owned by Chandras and was being controlled through their associates,” the ED had said.

During the investigation, the ED arrested five individuals, namely Sanjay Chandra, Ajay Chandra, Ramesh Chandra, Preeti Chandra, and Rajesh Malik. Till now, two prosecution complaints have been filed by the ED and cognisance of the same has been taken by the PMLA court.

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