The Bombay High Court on Wednesday reprimanded the Central agencies for having issued Look Out Circulars (LOCs) against an accused even after the accused had been arrested and subsequently granted bail by the court.
The Bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav was hearing a writ petition filed by Roshini Kapoor, daughter of Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor, challenging the LOC issued against her by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) at the request of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Kapoor, along with her mother and sister, were taken into custody by the court after the filing of the chargesheet and were later granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in 2021. Kapoor was to travel outside the country this year for a wedding and re-establish ties with his family. However, when she came to seek permission to travel, the Bombay High Court asked her to first challenge the LOC and then seek permission to travel.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the bench asked advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, appearing for both the central agencies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), under which law an LOC was issued when the accused had been released on bail by the Supreme Court.
“Once bail is granted, then the accused is under the custody of the court which granted bail. How can you [the agency] supersede judicial orders like that? Are you [the Central agency] above Parliament? You are overreaching Parliament now,” the bench said.
Justice Gadkari reasoned, “A lookout notice is only for the absconding accused. Once the accused is arrested, the lookout notice must end.” However, Venegaonkar said that the LOCs were merely suspended once the accused was arrested.
“Once the accused is released on bail, then the LOC has to be considered. It has been found in several cases, that despite conditions imposed by the Court while granting bail, the accused have jumped the order and crosses territories of the country, after which it becomes difficult to track them,” Venegaonkar submitted.
He further pointed out that even with leave granted by the court to the applicant to approach for permission to travel, circumstances had to be looked into before granting permission. The court did not agree with this submission.
“The purpose is to stop an accused from fleeing from the country without due process of law. But here, there are bail conditions. They [agencies] cannot be superpowers and go above the law,” the bench said.
Advocate Pranav Badheka, appearing for Kapoor, told the court that her passport is deposited with CBI, and in the event she wants to travel abroad, she must obtain prior permission.
Badheka submitted that even though the accused was not presently in jail, she was in the custody of the court with stringent conditions imposed on her.
The court adjourned the matter to September 20, to enable the agency to produce its relevant manuals, which may have provisions for seeking issuance of LOCs.
Kapoor and her family are being investigated by the CBI and ED for the Rs 4,000 crore Yes Bank-DHFL quid-pro-quo case of 2020. In her plea, Kapoor said that keeping a LOC on an accused who had been arrested was superseding the law.
READ | Yes Bank’s Rana Kapoor, DHLF promoters laundered funds worth Rs 5,050 crore, says ED
— ENDS —