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Delhi court grants interim bail to Lalu Prasad’s associate on medical grounds

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) A Delhi court Monday granted interim bail on medical grounds to Amit Katyal, who was arrested last year in a money laundering case linked to the alleged land-for-jobs scam involving RJD chief Lalu Prasad and several members of his family.

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Special Judge Vishal Gogne granted Katyal interim bail for a month saying, "He must be accorded a purposive and humane interpretation of 'sick or infirm' within the meaning of the proviso to section 45(1) PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act)." "In view of the medical reports from the government hospital or jail medical facility, the accused comes forth as requiring an urgent cardiac procedure as well as bariatric surgery. The morbid obesity suffered by him and the nature of risk associated with heart ailment does present the prospect of a life-threatening outcome visiting him if not addressed with urgency," the judge noted.

The nature of restrictions on his daily activities advised by doctors further constitute a debilitating state of physical being, Gogne said.

"In fact, the accused can variously be described as being both sick and infirm... The court finds the grounds in the application moved by the accused to merit release on interim bail albeit for a limited duration of four weeks," the judge said.

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The court granted the relief on personal bonds and two surety bonds of Rs 2 lakh each and said that the accused was permitted to receive medical treatment at a hospital within the National Capital Region.

The judge also imposed various conditions on the accused, including prohibiting him from leaving the country during the period of the interim bail and attempting to contact, influence or coerce any person or witness connected with the case.

Katyal was first detained and later, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on November 11, 2023, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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The central agency alleged that Katyal had "acquired" land from several aspirants on behalf of the RJD chief and former Union railways minister.

The ED claimed that Katyal was the director of a company called AK Infosystems Private Limited, which acquired land from candidates "on behalf" of Lalu Prasad.

"The registered address of the company is D-1088, New Friends Colony, New Delhi, which is the house belonging to Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members. Several other lands were also acquired by Amit Katyal in the said company in return for giving undue favours by Lalu Prasad when he was minister of railways," the agency alleged in a statement issued on Monday.

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After acquiring the land, it said, shares of the said company were "transferred" to the family members of Lalu Prasad in 2014.

Katyal, as per the ED, is a "close associate" of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo and has been evading summons for questioning in the case for about two months.

A K Infosystems Private Limited is allegedly a "beneficiary company" in the case and its registered address in south Delhi's New Friends Colony was being used by Tejashwi Yadav, the ED had claimed earlier.

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The alleged scam pertains to the period when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister in the UPA-1 government.

It is alleged that from 2004 to 2009, several people were appointed to Group "D" positions in various zones of the Indian Railways and in lieu, these people transferred their land to the family members of the then railway minister Prasad and A K Infosystems Private Limited.

The ED case, filed under the criminal sections of the PMLA, stems from a complaint lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to the CBI, no advertisement or public notice was issued for appointment, but some residents of Patna were appointed as substitutes in different zonal railways in Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hazipur.

As a quid pro quo, the candidates, directly or through their immediate family members, allegedly sold land to Prasad's family members at highly discounted rates, up to one-fourth to one-fifth of the prevailing market rates, the CBI alleged. PTI UK IJT

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