Delhi HC seeks ED stand on bail plea of journalist Rajeev Sharma in money laundering case

He was arrested over leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to give its stand on the bail plea of Delhi-based freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged leaking of sensitive information to Chinese intelligence.

Justice Mukta Gupta asked the agency to clarify in its reply how the journalist was connected with the allegedly illegal financial transactions.

“Please tell your [ED] officers to justify the connection with the petitioner. If he is in receipt of money from shell companies, it is an illegal offence. But there has to be admissible evidence to connect him,” the court remarked.

Counsel for ED argued that Mr. Sharma received cash from a shell company run by the Chinese and further investigation was on. The agency arrested the journalist under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on July 1.

A sessions court here on July 17, while denying bail to Mr. Sharma, said that he would definitely attempt to wipe off the footprints and cover up the traces if released on bail.

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur, for Mr. Sharma, said the money laundering case arose out of a case registered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), in which the journalist was granted bail by the High Court in December last year.

Mr. Mathur argued that Mr. Sharma had already furnished details pertaining to bank accounts to the ED.

On December 4 last year, the court granted bail to the 62-year-old on technical grounds that the Delhi police had not filed the charge sheet in the case within the stipulated 60 days period after arrest.

Mr. Sharma had moved the High Court after his plea for bail was dismissed by a magisterial court on September 28 and by a sessions court on October 19 last year. The sessions court had dismissed his bail plea noting that sufficiently grave and incriminating material was available on record against him.

The police had earlier said they had received an input from an intelligence agency that Mr. Sharma, a resident of Pitampura, was having links with a foreign intelligence officer and had been receiving money through illegal means and wire transfer.

Following this, a case under the Official Secrets Act was registered on September 13 and Mr. Sharma was arrested the next day.

As per the police version, during the search of his house, several articles and some sensitive or confidential documents related to defence were recovered. Police had said that Mr. Sharma indulged in procurement of secret/confidential/sensitive documents and conveying the same to his handlers (Chinese intelligence officers) based in China.

In lieu of that, Mr. Sharma was getting money through illegal means such as hawala transactions or funds routed through shell companies being run or operated by Chinese nationals in Delhi.

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