A Delhi court on Saturday rejected bail to journalist Rajeev Sharma in an alleged money laundering case investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) related to hawala transactions from Chinese agencies (Directorate of Enforcement v. Rajeev Sharma). .Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana observed that the allegations against Sharma were serious and the investigation is at a crucial juncture. “The complete money trail is yet to be traced and releasing the applicant/accused on bail at this stage would not be salubrious to the cause of justice, as the applicant/accused would definitely attempt to wipe off the foot prints and cover up the traces,” the Court noted. .In December 2020, Delhi High Court had granted to bail Sharma, who arrested arrested by Delhi Police in September 2020 for alleged commission of offences under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act.According to the police, Sharma indulged in procurement of confidential/sensitive documents/material and information and its subsequent handover to Chinese Intelligence officers.Sharma is alleged to have received illegal funds/remuneration through illegal means/shell companies operated by the Chinese nationals.Delhi Police has claimed that it has found several articles and some sensitive/confidential documents related to Indian Defence department at the instance of Rajeev Sharma.Sharma was arrested by the ED on July 1, 2021, on the ground that he had been receiving money through shell companies run by Chinese nationals at the instance of Chinese intelligence officers based in China.Special public prosecutor Mohd Faraz submitted that the chargesheet filed in the police’s case showed that Sharma had received money for providing confidential information of India to the Chinese Intelligence Agencies.It was also argued that the money was received in relation to a criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence and is thus proceeds of crime within the meaning of Section 2 (1)(u) of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, proved by witness’ statements.Sharma’s lawyers, Amish Aggarwala and Aditya Jhakar argued that no prima facie case of money laundering was made out as mere allegations of cash deposits did not bring the case under the purview of money laundering..They submitted that the only allegation, according to ED, against their client pertained to cash deposits/transactions. However, there was nothing on record to prove that the transactions in question were “proceeds of crime”.It was further contended that the records pertaining to the alleged transactions, including electronic evidence, had already been seized by ED with Sharma being interrogated "at length" on two different occasions.The court, however, noted that economic offences were required to be treated as a “separate class” and bail could not be granted as a matter of “routine”.The order underscored that under the money laundering law, the onus was on the accused to explain the receipt of the alleged money from a person, who was "apparently having no justifiable connection/relationship" with him.Sharma, therefore, was observed to have failed to furnish any palpable explanation regarding the receipt of such money. “It is further intriguing to note that annual income of applicant/accused was reported by the accused to be barely Rs 8.6 lakh and yet he is financing his son’s education abroad, enjoys multiple foreign trips and he is even lending lakhs of rupees to his friends and acquaintances for investment purposes,” added the court.