Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, told a Supreme Court bench of Justices Chandrachud and Surya Kant today that Raghav Bahl, the founder of The Quint and an accused in a money laundering case, can travel abroad if he and his wife produce an undertaking on the date of return and provide the itinerary, reports Law Beat.
BREAKING:— LawBeat (@LawBeatInd) March 7, 2022
SG Tushar Mehta informs the court that @TheQuint founder @Raghav_Bahl and his wife Ritu Kapur can travel abroad upon furnishing an undertaking about the date of their return and submission of their complete itinerary
In December 2021, the Supreme Court had granted Raghav Bahl interim protection in relation to the money laundering case filed against him by the Enforcement Directorate.
After the Delhi High Court refused to award him protection in the case, Bahl turned to the Supreme Court. Following a complaint from the Income Tax Department and allegations that he had laundered funds to buy a mansion in London, the ED opened a money-laundering inquiry against Bahl.
When the case came up for hearing today, Bahl’s lawyer, Sr Adv Shyam Divan, stated that Bahl and his wife need to travel abroad for health reasons and that the Court’s order protecting Bahl does not specify whether or not he can travel. The bench first deferred the hearing until Wednesday when SG Tushar Mehta, standing for ED, stated that he needed to receive directions in this respect.
However, as the bench was rising, the SG informed them that he had received instructions and that Bahl and his wife might travel if they provided an undertaking on the date of return and the itinerary.
After hearing the SG’s remarks, the Court asked Diwan’s opinion on the matter. The court deferred the case until Friday (March 11) for compliance after Diwan agreed.
The money-laundering case against Raghav Bahl
In June 2019, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a case against the media giant and founder of The Quint, Raghav Bahl, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The department had picked up on the complaint filed by the Income Tax (IT) department against Bahl under Section 50 of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015, the ED had initiated action against him. The law enforcement agency had lodged an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), a police FIR equivalent, based on the complaint.
According to the IT department, Bahl has not disclosed his foreign assets, a property bought in London, UK for 31 lakh pounds. The economic intelligence agency has sought details from the IT department regarding the offence allegedly committed by Bahl.
Bahl was served a Show-Cause notice on May 1, 2019, seeking information about the property and the source of funds for an investment made in that property.
On October 11, 2018, the IT officials had searched The Quint owner’s premises. Sleuths from the department had raided his residence in Noida to search for documents and other pieces of evidence related to the case.
Raj Kumar Modi, in an admission to the tax officials under oath, had alleged Bahl of using his shell company to launder money and evade tax. Modi is the Managing Director of PMC Fincorp, a shell company, which Bahl had invested money in.
Modi has reportedly made a statement to IT officials where he claimed that Bahl’s chartered accountant had given him ₹100 crores in cash “to convert into white”.
Bahl, on his part, had denied the allegations levelled against him. He has asserted that every transaction had been fully disclosed and assessed to tax. Bahl had claimed the money invested in the property is from the income on, which taxes have been duly paid. He also claimed the information has consistently been disclosed in the Foreign Asset Schedule of the Income Tax Returns of Raghav Bahl, his wife and children.