Delhi High Court Rejects Habeas Corpus Plea in Vivo Money Laundering Case

The Delhi High Court has dismissed Habeas Corpus petitions filed by three individuals accused in a money laundering case involving Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo. The accused claimed illegal detention, arguing that there was no court order extending their custody beyond December 7, 2023. However, the court, after examining the facts, concluded that the accused were in lawful judicial custody.

The case against Vivo, initiated by the Delhi Police in 2021, alleges the use of shell companies to remit money outside India between 2014 and 2021. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed its chargesheet in December, and the three accused were among those arrested in October.

The accused contended that their detention in Tihar jail was illegal after December 7, as there was no court order extending their judicial custody. The court found no break in their custody, noting they were unable to appear in court on December 7, leading to the issuance of production warrants for the next hearing on December 13.

The Delhi Police’s case against Vivo centers on accusations of using shell companies for money remittance outside India between 2014 and 2021. The ED filed its chargesheet earlier this month. The three accused were arrested in October, initially in ED custody, which later transitioned to judicial custody.

The accused argued that their judicial custody was last extended till December 7 based on an ED application on October 30. They claimed that their continued detention beyond this date lacked a judicial order, violating Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In response, the ED explained that a chargesheet was filed on December 6, and although the accused were not physically brought before the trial court on December 7, their legal representatives were present, and no objections were raised regarding the production warrants.

The court agreed with the ED, emphasizing that even if the accused were not physically present, their continuous custody remained lawful, especially as no objections were raised. The court highlighted that if the accused were not issued production warrants the same day, the situation might be different.

The Delhi High Court’s decision affirms the lawful judicial custody of the accused individuals in the Vivo money laundering case, dismissing their plea for Habeas Corpus. This ruling underscores the court’s commitment to proper legal procedures and ensures clarity regarding the accused’s custodial status amid procedural intricacies.

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