India’s Supreme Court puts trial on hold for ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin

Jenny Ortiz 1 month ago
India’s Supreme Court puts trial on hold for ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin

The Supreme Court of India intervened to halt the ongoing trial against Santiago Martin, popularly known as the Lottery King, in a money laundering case being heard in a special court in Kerala under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 

Martin, previously making headlines for his significant donations to the South Asian political parties via the now-defunct Electoral Bonds Scheme, found himself in legal crosshairs once again. Challenging a Kerala court’s decision to proceed with the trial despite pending matters, Martin petitioned the apex court to reconsider the trial’s continuation. 

According to a report by India Today, a bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan issued a stay order on the trial while summoning the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for further proceedings. The court underscored the need for a thorough examination of the case before proceeding, setting the next hearing for July 12. 

“We make it clear that even if the charge is framed, the trial will not commence in PMLA cases till further orders,” the court emphasized during the hearing. 

Legal precedents and defence strategy 

The report also said that Martin’s legal team, led by senior counsel Aditya Sondhi, invoked legal precedents and argued that the PMLA proceedings should await the conclusion of the primary case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sondhi pointed to a Supreme Court ruling from 2022, emphasizing that PMLA proceedings must align with the outcome of the predicate case. 

Complex legal landscape: Interplay between cases 

The intricate legal saga unfolds against the backdrop of a complex web of allegations stemming from a 2014 lottery scam. Initially investigated by the CBI, the case led to charges against Martin and others. Subsequently, the ED filed a complaint for money laundering in 2018, sparking a legal battle that continues to unfold. 

Legal limbo: Pending discharge application 

Martin’s plea highlights the pending discharge application before the special court, underscoring the interdependence of legal proceedings.

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