In a major relief to Bollywood diva Jacqueline Fernandez, a Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to her in connection with a money laundering case related to ₹200 crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.
Dressed up in brown pants, a blazer and a white shirt, Fernandez appeared before the court in the afternoon.
The court has asked her to furnish a personal bond of ₹2 lakh and one surety in the like amount, said her counsel Prashant Patil, adding that she would need to take the court’s permission for travelling abroad.
Patil said that his arguments in the case were based on two foundations.
“First the guidelines set by the Supreme Court say that if the accused is not arrested during the course of the investigation, the accused is entitled to bail after the filing of the charge sheet. There is no prima facie evidence against her in the charge sheet filed against Fernandez,” he said.
In the court, the fundamental argument revolved around slamming charges of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. “And prima facie, there is no case made off, it was our submission in the court.”
When asked about the Enforcement Directorate’s allegations that she is a flight risk, the advocate said, “The allegations of flight risk are not substantiated with evidence.”
“While going abroad in December last year, Fernandez came to know about LOC (lookout circular) issued against her and then she approached the court as a law abiding citizen and then flew offshore.
Earlier on Thursday, the court asked ED why it has not arrested Fernandez despite issuing a LOC against her, while the other accused are in jail.
“Why haven’t you arrested her (Fernandez) yet despite issuing a LOC? Other accused are in jail. Why adopt a pick-and-choose policy?” the court had asked the ED, which had issued a LOC against the actor earlier this year.
On October 22, the ED opposed the bail plea filed by the Bollywood actor in connection with the money laundering case, arguing that the Sri Lankan national has “huge stature and influence”.
While opposing her bail plea, the agency said that it is a very genuine and reasonable apprehension of the prosecution that the mere presence of the applicant at large shall intimate the witnesses not to disclose any information regarding the ill-gotten money or money laundered by her.
“It is respectfully submitted that the applicant is not an ordinary person but a Bollywood actress having huge financial resources and hence has a high stature and influence in the society,” it said.
The agency also said that Fernandez has “never cooperated” with investigators and only made the disclosure when confronted with evidence and statements.
The ED told the court that she initially did not admit the fact that she received both money and gifts and transferred it to her parents, brothers, and sisters, which had been otherwise established during the investigation.
The agency is investigating the money trail in the ₹200 crore extortion case against conman Sukesh. On September 1, a PMLA court in Delhi took cognizance of the ED charge sheet filed against her. She is the only person named in the ED supplementary charge sheet filed in August this year.
Sukesh was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly extorting approximately ₹215 crores from Aditi Singh and Shivender Singh, former promoters of pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy.
In April this year, the ED attached Fernandez’s properties worth ₹7.27 crore in the case.