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Supreme Court Denies Bail to Bureaucrat in Money Laundering Case


The case, Saumya Chaurasia v. Directorate of Enforcement[i]  pertains to an appeal filed against the order by the High Court of Chhattisgarh (‘HC’), wherein the bail application under s. 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (‘CrPC’) was dismissed. Saumya Chaurasia, a former Deputy Secretary to the ex-Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, was arrested under an ECIR related to a case against Suryakant Tiwari, involving offences under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). The Hon’ble Supreme Court (‘Court’) dismissed the appeal, stating that Saumya Chaurasia was prima facie involved in money laundering and also, made an attempt to misrepresent the facts.

Brief Facts

  • A search and seizure were carried out under s. 132 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 against Suryakant Tiwari. FIR was filed against Suryakant Tiwari under various sections of the IPC.

  • On the basis of this FIR, the Directorate of Enforcement (‘ED’) registered ECIR against Suryakant Tiwari. Saumya Chaurasia (‘Appellant’) was arrested under this ECIR related to a case against Suryakant Tiwari. 

  • The case involves allegations of extortion, bribery, and money laundering linked to Shri Suryakant Tiwari. It was alleged that the Appellant, as Deputy Secretary in the Chief Minister’s office, played a significant role in an extortion racket in a coal scam run by Shri Suryakant Tiwari. The Appellant’s arrest was based on the findings and investigations into Tiwari’s activities.

  • The Appellant applied for bail before the lower court which was rejected. Subsequently, the Appellant filed a bail application under s. 439 of Cr.P.C., which was dismissed by the HC. The Appellant then filed an appeal in the Court under a. 136 of the Constitution of India challenging this decision of the HC.

Legal arguments presented by the Appellant

  • The scheduled offences under ss. 384 and 120B of the IPC were dropped from the chargesheet filed by the Investigating Officer and the lower court had taken cognizance of offences under ss. 204 and 353 of the IPC only, which are not the scheduled offences under the PMLA. As a result, proceedings related to ss. 384 and 120B of the IPC could not be sustained based on this chargesheet.

  • Under the PMLA, proceedings are contingent upon the existence of a scheduled offence. Without a surviving scheduled predicate offence against the Appellant, PMLA proceedings cannot validly continue. The Appellant referred to Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India[ii] to substantiate these arguments.

  • The Appellant argued that the HC failed to consider the fact that the scheduled offenses were dropped from the chargesheet and raised questions of law regarding the alleged error by the HC.

  • The Appellant also invoked the first proviso to s. 45 of the PMLA, which allows for discretion in granting bail to certain categories of individuals, including women accused of money laundering. The Appellant argued that being a woman, she should be considered for bail under this provision.

Observations of the Court

  • The Court observed that the Appellant attempted to challenge the HC’s order by alleging errors in not considering certain documents, specifically the chargesheet and the cognizance order. However, the Court found that the Appellant failed to produce the chargesheet and cognizance order before the HC during arguments or as part of the record.

  • The Court observed that the advocate representing the Appellant failed in their duty to verify the accuracy of the facts presented in the appeal before the Court. This negligence resulted in the inclusion of misleading information and inconsistencies, ultimately undermining the credibility of the Appellant’s case.

  • The Court analysed the provisions of Order XXI of the Supreme Court Rules 2013, which governs Special Leave Petitions (‘SLPs’) under a. 136 of the Constitution of India. The Court pointed out that SLPs should be confined to pleadings before the lower court, and additional facts or documents should not be introduced in the SLP. The Court noted that the appellant failed to adhere to these rules, raising doubts about the credibility of the submissions made.

  • The Court noted that the investigating officer has filed a chargesheet stating Shri Suryakant Tiwari is accused of an offence committed under s. 384 of the IPC with his associates. Therefore, the offence under s. 384 cannot be said to be dropped.

  • The Court carefully considered the Appellant’s argument considering the legal framework provided by s. 45 of the PMLA. The Court acknowledged that the first proviso to s. 45 granted discretionary powers to consider bail for certain categories, including women. The Court held that while gender is a relevant factor, it must be considered along with other circumstances. The mere fact of being a woman does not automatically entitle an individual to bail under s. 45.

  • The Court found sufficient evidence to conclude that the Appellant was prima facie involved in money laundering. There was no evidence to suggest innocence or grant special bail benefit to the Appellant as a woman under s. 45 of the PMLA.

  • The Court dismissed the appeal, emphasizing the Appellant’s attempt to misrepresent facts. The Court also imposed a cost of Rs. One Lakh on the Appellant, directing its deposition to the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority.


It is crucial to keep in mind that the Court’s decisions are not prejudiced and are based on a meticulous examination of the facts and legal arguments presented before them. Therefore, in the present case, where Saumya Chaurasia sought bail in a money laundering case, the Supreme Court’s ruling merits the issue regarding the careful consideration of evidence, adherence to procedural rules, and the balanced application of legal provisions, notably s. 45 of the PMLA.

End Notes

[i] 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1674

[ii] SLP(Crl.) No. 4634 of 2014

Authored by Nitish Solanki, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.


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