Underscoring that the liberty of the person is more important than anything else, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi principal and sessions judge to take up and decide tomorrow (September 22) itself on the Enforcement Directorate's (ED's) plea for transferring the money laundering case against AAP MLA Satyendar Jain to a new trial judge.
During an urgent hearing mentioned by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Jain, a three-judge bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud asked the principal judge to hear and decide the case tomorrow itself.
The order came after Sibal told the bench that the investigating agency plea at the last hour before the trial court is a delaying tactic and said, "ED has not even filed any formal application seeking transfer of the case to another judge and it was just an oral submission by ASG."
Countering Sibal, ASG SV Raju, appearing for ED, told the court that he had instructions for seeking transfer in the case and that an application would also be filed in due course.
At this, the bench said, "The liberty of the person is sacrosanct, and that's why we took up this case on an urgent basis."
Sibal responded that the judge has been hearing this case for two years and that if it is transferred now, the entire proceedings will have to be heard again.
However, the bench stated that it could not decide the bail petition on the merits and suggested that the trial court judge hear and decide the case on priority.
Jain was arrested after the ED attached immovable properties worth Rs 4.81 crore in April, owned by private firms under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, in connection with the disproportionate asset and money laundering case registered against Jain, his wife Poonam Jain, and others.
The chargesheet stated that Satyendra Jain, while holding office as a Minister in the Government of Delhi, during the period from February 14 to May 31, 2017, had acquired assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.