2 former DJB officials sent to 3 yrs in jail in money laundering case

New Delhi: A court here has sentenced two former Delhi Jal Board officials to three years of rigorous imprisonment in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate, saying it was taking a “lenient view” in the matter.

Special Judge Ashwani Kumar Sarpal was hearing the case against Raj Kumar Sharma and Ramesh Chand Chaturvedi, who were sentenced to five years and four years imprisonment, respectively by a CBI court in December 2012 for misappropriating around Rs 47.76 lakh from the DJB and against whom the ED had registered a case in December 2009.

The anti-money laundering agency, however, filed the complaint in the present court in March 2021 after a delay of more than 11 years and around four years after the accused completed their sentence in the CBI case.

“The accused persons, after realising that they have no defence in this present prevention of money laundering Act (PMLA) matter after conviction in scheduled offences by the CBI court which was upheld by the Supreme Court, have pleaded guilty voluntarily,” Special Judge Sarpal said in an order passed on Saturday.

“They have already undergone sentences of five and four years respectively in scheduled offences as well as have already spent the misappropriated or cheated money for their defence in the CBI case and other circumstances... so taking a lenient view, both the accused persons are hereby sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of three years and also liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 each,” the judge added. Special Public Prosecutor Atul Tripathi appeared for the ED in the case.

Noting the submissions of the accused persons, such as the duo losing their government jobs, having the responsibility of a family, having a meagre income, and being reformed after the sentence, the judge said those could be “genuine reasons” but the court is “helpless” and cannot impose any sentence less than three years.

The judge also noted that according to the relevant provision of the PMLA, the minimum punishment was for three years and this meant even if the court took a “very lenient view”, then also the minimum imprisonment of not less than three years had to be awarded.

“When there is a minimum punishment prescribed under any law, then the accused cannot be given any benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act and no discretion is left with the court to award a sentence less than the minimum,” the judge said.

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