House arrest curtails liberty, must be part of total custody period: HC | India News

MUMBAI: Observing that house arrest curtails the liberty of a person, the Bombay high court released hawala operator Mohamed Farooq Shaikh on bail noting that he has spent a substantial part of the sentence prescribed for money laundering in custody.
“… according to us, house arrest is ultimately the arrest of a person, whereby his liberty to be a free person is ultimately curtailed by operation of law,” said Justices Ajay Gadkari and Shyam Chandak on Monday, adding that “prolonged custody amounts to infringement of Article 21 (Right to Life)…of an accused.”
They disagreed with the Enforcement Directorate‘s advocate Hiten Venegavkar that the period of house arrest cannot be considered for computing the total period of Shaikh’s custody and it must be excluded.
Shaikh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on April 23, 2018 in aRs 2,253 crore money laundering scam. In June 2019, the high court directed him to be kept in house arrest as his wife was unwell. On the ED’s appeal, the Supreme Court in July 2019 continued the high court order.
On April 28, the SC dismissed the ED’s plea to vacate the interim order. Shaikh moved the HC to quash the Enforcement Case Information Report.
Senior advocate Rajiv Chavan, for Shaikh, said he is in custody for more than five years and eight months for an offence punishable with maximum 7 years. He said the trial court has not framed charges and the trial is unlikely to complete in near future. He urged for bail pending hearing of the petition.
Taking note of the situation at the trial court, the judges said the period of incarceration undergone by Shaikh “has exceeded a substantial part of the prescribed sentence” and he “has already completed three-fourth of his sentence, if convicted and sentenced…” The judges directed Shaikh’s release on Rs 1 lakh personal bond.

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