Court stops Chandraswami from going abroadFebruary 26th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by admin
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday stopped self-proclaimed godman Chandraswami from going abroad on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate even as a city court released his passport. A bench of Justice B.N. Agarwal prevented Chandraswami from going on a foreign jaunt by staying a Jan 31 order of the Delhi High Court that allowed the controversial spiritual guru to visit the US, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Mauritius for a month.
The bench also included Justices G.S. Singhvi and Aftab Alam. The bench, while issuing notice to Chandraswami alias Nemi Chand Jain, slated the matter for further hearing March 10.
Appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian told the bench that Chandraswami owes a penalty of Rs.80 million to the government for violation of foreign exchange provisions. Hence he cannot be allowed to go abroad without completion of the trial.
The officer said the government was willing to complete the trial in two months. The trial had got delayed because Chandraswami had taken 27 adjournments in each of the 11 Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violation cases in which he is facing trial.
The bench told the officer that the high court had stayed trial in two cases against Chandraswami.
Counsel for Chandraswami, P.N. Puri, while pleading that the high court order not be suspended, told the apex court that he had been permitted to go abroad after raising a security amount of Rs.1 million per case.
However, on the Enforcement Directorate’s contention that Chandraswami might not return to face trial if he is allowed to go abroad, the apex court suspended the high court order.
Meanwhile, a city court released the controversial godman’s passport on his plea that he needed to get it renewed.
Arguing on his behalf, his counsel Santosh Chauria told the court that according to the directions of the Delhi High Court, they had submitted fixed deposits worth Rs.2 million collected from disciples across the world.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjeev Jain released the passport but asked Chandraswami to comply with all conditions laid down by the higher court.
Chandraswami, who was close to several politicians including former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, faces penalties worth several millions of rupees if found guilty in the cases against him.