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Delhi High Court Sets Aside Order Transferring PMLA Case After Judge Said “ED Matters Me Kaunsi Bail Hoti Hain”

Delhi High Court Sets Aside Order Transferring PMLA Case After Judge Said "ED Matters Me Kaunsi Bail Hoti Hain"

Case Title: ED v. Ajay S Mittal
The Delhi High Court has recently set aside a trial court order that had transferred the Bhushan Steel money laundering case from one judge to another. This decision came after one of the accused alleged that the judge had made a comment expressing, "ED matters me kaun si bail hoti hai?" (which roughly translates to "What kind of bail is given in ED matters?").

However, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, who presided over the case, ruled that the alleged comment did not reflect any apprehension of bias against the accused or show any favoritism towards the prosecuting agency. The court has now remanded the matter back to the Principal District & Sessions Judge, directing the court to decide the transfer application afresh. This decision will involve calling for comments from the concerned judge and taking into consideration the observations made in the current order.

Interestingly, the court emphasized that judges also have a right to protect their reputation. Justice Sharma underscored that conversations between judges and court staff are confidential in nature and that a judge's reputation is built upon years of dedicated service, which they ought to guard carefully.

The court also acknowledged the increased use of VC (video conferencing) technology in the present times, but cautioned that its widespread use opens up possibilities of misuse, where judges can become vulnerable. This highlights the need to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of judicial proceedings, even in the digital age.

Overall, this ruling by the Delhi High Court serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between protecting the rights of the accused and safeguarding the reputation and impartiality of the judiciary. It also underscores the evolving challenges posed by the digital landscape and the importance of maintaining the sanctity of judicial proceedings.

Justice Sharma, in a critical ruling, emphasized the importance of safeguarding the dignity and integrity of the judiciary. Addressing the case of transferring proceedings based on overheard conversations, Justice Sharma stated that such apprehensions must not be entertained without concrete evidence.

The case in question involved an application filed by the accused, Ajay S. Mittal, seeking the transfer of proceedings. Mittal alleged that while his bail plea was pending, his wife overheard a conversation between the judge and court staff, where the judge was purported to have said, "lene do datein, ED matters me kaun si bail hoti hai." This occurred after the counsels had left the courtroom.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), represented by special counsel Zoheb Hossain, contended that the only basis for the transfer order was the accused's wife's claim. The ED argued that the trial court had accepted this assertion as an undisputed fact, without calling for a report from the judge in question or verifying the authenticity of the statement.

Justice Sharma, in a firm and decisive manner, dismissed the ED's plea against the transfer order. The judge emphasized that such apprehensions must not be entertained without substantial evidence, as it could undermine the very foundations of the judiciary and erode public trust in the judicial system.

The ruling highlights the importance of upholding the sanctity of the courts and ensuring that the integrity of the judicial process is maintained. Justice Sharma's stance sends a clear message that unsubstantiated claims cannot be used to disrupt the orderly functioning of the courts, and that the rights and dignity of all parties involved must be duly respected.

The issue of a judge recusing themselves from a case can have significant implications for the entire criminal justice system. In a recent case, Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi, who represented the accused, argued that the order transferring the case from one judge to another was an administrative decision, rather than a substantive ruling.

The decision of a judge to step aside from a case can be a complex and delicate matter. It is intended to ensure the impartiality and fairness of the judicial process, but it can also create practical challenges if not handled properly. The underlying concern is that the judge's personal biases or connections could unduly influence the outcome of the case, compromising the integrity of the system.

However, as Advocate Sethi pointed out, the transfer of a case from one judge to another does not necessarily imply a problem with the entire criminal justice system. It may be a necessary administrative measure to ensure the efficient and effective management of the court's docket.

The balance between ensuring judicial impartiality and maintaining the smooth operation of the courts is a crucial aspect that the legal system must navigate. While the recusal of a judge is an important safeguard, it should be applied judiciously and with due consideration for the practical realities of court operations.

Ultimately, the goal should be to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law, while also ensuring that the criminal justice system functions effectively and efficiently. This requires a nuanced and thoughtful approach that takes into account the various factors at play, including the rights of the accused, the interests of the victims, and the broader societal interests.

The accused had argued that the judge's comments were a shock to him, and he had a reasonable apprehension that the presiding officer had a pre-determined and prejudicial mindset to dismiss his bail application.

The trial court, in transferring the case, acknowledged that the accused's perception and viewpoint, stating that he did not expect an impartial hearing from the court, should be given due consideration.

The tone of this revised version is more fluent and engaging, with a clearer flow of ideas. The language used is more natural, and the grammar is correct. The key points from the original text have been retained and expressed in a more concise and articulate manner.

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