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DATE OF JUDGEMENTFebruary 09, 2024
COURT Supreme Court of India 
APPELLANT Directorate of Enforcement & Anr.
RESPONDENT Bablu Sonkar & Anr.
BENCHHon’ble Justice Mr. Abhay S. Oka and Hon’ble Justice Ujjal Bhuyan


A key question regarding the incorrect granting of bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) has been brought to light by the recent ruling in the case of Director of Enforcement v. Bablu Sonkar, which has generated a great deal of discussion in the legal community. This case concerns an appeal against the Bombay High Court bench’s decision to grant bail after a complaint filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) was quashed. The appellant, through the Additional Solicitor General, contests the bail decision made for the first respondent, who filed a writ petition to have the Enforcement Directorate’s complaint revoked.


  1. To invalidate a complaint made under the PMLA by the Enforcement Directorate, the first respondent filed a writ suit in the Bombay High Court.
  2. During the petition hearing, no provisional remedy was given.
  3. A roster bench heard the matter and deferred judgment.
  4. From June 4, 2023, until August 20, 2023, the bench’s roster for considering criminal writ petitions for quashing was the only one to include it.
  5. On June 26, 2023, the bench holding the case ordered that the petition and other related matters be heard again and that the verdict be de-reserved.
  6. Unexpectedly, the bench granted the first respondent interim bail despite their having been no bail application submitted that day.
  7. According to the prevailing roster, the matter was not assigned to the bench on June 26, 2023, so the appellant claims that granting bail was improper.


  1. Did the bench have the right to set bail on June 26, 2023, even if the roster did not designate them as the bench’s assigned judge?
  2. If the bail request was granted without an application or evaluation of its merits, was the procedure followed correctly?
  3. If bail was granted under the contested order, should it be revoked and annulled?


The appellant contends that because the matter was not assigned to the bench based on the roster, the bench lacked the jurisdiction to grant bail on June 26, 2023. Furthermore, it was wrong to give bail without a request and without documenting the reasons.

The Enforcement Directorate contended that it was inappropriate to give bail to Bablu Sonkar without a formal request and without adhering to the correct processes, raising questions about the fairness of the legal system.


The petitioner, the first respondent, has argued in support of the interim bail that was granted, highlighting the necessity of striking a balance between the rights of the petitioner and the prosecution.

Bablu Sonkar, contended that the obligation to surrender prior to submitting a formal bail application and the delay in hearing his case were violations of his fundamental rights.


The court underlined the significance of respecting natural justice principles even as it acknowledged the procedural error in granting bail to Bablu Sonkar without adhering to the established roster system. The court nullified Sonkar’s bail and directed him to turn himself in before submitting a formal bail petition, underscoring the need of following legal procedures and guaranteeing procedural justice.

The portion of the contested ruling that granted bail to the first respondent was invalidated by the Supreme Court, while the appeal was partially permitted. It ordered the initial respondent to turn themselves in and submit a bail request or application for temporary relief before the Full Bench. The High Court was directed to swiftly evaluate the application and rehearse the writ suit.


The court underlined the need of following the Chief Justice’s roster, declaring that no bench may hear a case unless it is assigned in accordance with the current roster. The court determined that it was unlawful to grant bail without applying the proper procedure or taking the case’s merits into account.

The case of Director of Enforcement v. Bablu Sonkar highlights the necessity for judicial authorities to use prudence and good judgment, especially when determining bail in cases involving serious crimes such as money laundering. The ruling demonstrates a dedication to preserving the integrity of the legal system and emphasizes how crucial it is to sustain norms of justice and fairness in the court system.


Ultimately, the court dismissed the portion of the contested decision that granted bail and partially granted the appeal. It was ordered that the respondent turn himself in and present a bail application to the roster bench for review. The court’s ruling emphasizes how important it is for the administration of justice to follow established procedures and procedural propriety.

Maintaining the values of justice and fairness in the legal system is crucial, and following the legal process is imperative, as demonstrated by the Director of Enforcement v. Bablu Sonkar case. This historic ruling highlights the need of procedural justice and the need of judicial authorities to guarantee that each party has an equal opportunity to state their case.


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This article is written by Ankita Maurya student of Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun; Intern at Legal Vidhiya. 

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