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SC orders transfer of ex-Unitech directors from Tihar over ED's collusion report

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered immediate transfer of former Unitech directors Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra from Tihar Jail

SC orders transfer of ex-Unitech directors from Tihar over EDs collusion report
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The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered immediate transfer of former Unitech directors Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra from Tihar Jail to Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail and Taloja Central Jail on a report by the Enforcement Directing alleging collusion of the jail authorities in helping the accused engage in illegal activities within the prison.

Expressing its displeasure over the way they are allegedly operating from Tihar jail, the apex court also directed the Delhi police commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report in four weeks.

The ED said it had unearthed a "secret underground office" in Delhi which was being operated by erstwhile Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons Sanjay and Ajay while on parole or bail.

The agency, which has been investigating money laundering charges against the Chandras' and Unitech Ltd, said that both Sanjay and Ajay had rendered the entire judicial custody otiose as they had been freely communicating, instructing their officials and disposing of their properties from inside the jail.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah was informed by additional solicitor general Madhavi Divan, appearing for the ED, that Chandras' had asked their officials outside the jail to communicate their instructions to those outside.

She said the probe agency had submitted two status reports in sealed cover to the court and had provisionally attached Unitech Ltd properties worth ₹600 crore both in India and abroad.

Divan said the agency had found a very "intricate web of money trail" through shell companies and the properties were being disposed of in real time, creating a hurdle in the investigation.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the Chandras, said that nothing was done against the jail manual. The top court said it was not hearing the Chandras at present and would first hear the ED's submission.

On June 4, the top court had granted 15-day interim bail to Sanjay Chandra to attend the last rites of his father-in-law after which he had surrendered.

On August 14 last year, the top court had dismissed the bail plea of Chandra, who was a month earlier granted interim bail for 30 days on "humanitarian grounds" as both his parents had tested positive for Covid-19, and asked him to surrender within three days.

The apex court had also dismissed the bail application of Chandra's brother Ajay Chandra, who is in jail since August 2017.

Both Sanjay and Ajay are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers' money. The top court in its October 2017 order had asked them to deposit ₹750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017.

The Chandras have claimed that they complied with the court's conditions and they had deposited an amount in excess of ₹750 crore and, therefore, they were granted regular bail.

The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects -- 'Wild Flower Country' and 'Anthea Project' -- situated in Gurugram.

On January 20 last year, in a respite to over 11,000 hassled home buyers of Unitech, the top court had allowed the Centre to take total management control of the realty firm and appoint a new board of nominee directors.

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