Calling the Enforcement Directorate a “vengeful complainant”, a special Mumbai court on Monday discharged charges against two men who were arrested by the central agency in a money-laundering case, Live Law reported.

The court observed that proceedings against Omkar Realtors Group promoters Babulal Varma and Kamal Kishore Gupta under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act cannot continue in the absence of a scheduled offence and that doing so will be nothing but futile work.

The court had previously granted them bail on similar grounds on August 8.

The Enforcement Directorate can file a complaint under the Act only to investigate the allegations of fraudulent proceeds of crime. However, these proceeds have to be linked to a separate criminal offence (scheduled offence) committed by the person.

“This court strongly feels that it cannot join hands with vengeful complainant like ED [Enforcement Directorate] to humiliate accused persons by continuing their judicial custody that too, in utter disregard to the recent law of the land,” Special Judge MG Deshpande said, according to The Indian Express.

Varma and Gupta were arrested in January 2021 in connection with the money-laundering case linked to the Mumbai real estate group. The Enforcement Directorate’s action against them is based on a first information report filed in 2020 in Aurangabad on charges of cheating a gymkhana and its directors.

The Aurangabad Police had filed a closure report in the case stating that there was no evidence to charge the duo. In February 2021, a local court in the city took cognisance of the report and had accepted the closure of the investigation.

However, Varma and Gupta’s judicial custody was extended from time to time, until earlier last month when they moved the special court opposing the extension, according to Bar and Bench.

During the hearing on Monday, the court said that the Enforcement Directorate cannot “eccentrically and whimsically” seek an extension of custody.

“The Hon’ble Apex Court [Supreme Court] time and again laid down that life bereft of liberty is without honour and dignity,” the judge said, according to Live Law. “It loses all significance and the life itself will not be worth living. That is the reason why liberty is held the very quintessence of a civilised existence. Without the right to life with liberty, no other right can be enjoyed.”