HC refuses to grant anticipatory bail to AAP MLA | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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HC refuses to grant anticipatory bail to AAP MLA

Mar 12, 2024 06:00 AM IST

Delhi HC denies anticipatory bail to AAP legislator Amanatullah Khan in money laundering case linked to Delhi Waqf Board recruitment irregularities.

New Delhi

New Delhi, India - Feb. 10, 2015: AAP wining candidate Amanatullah Khan wins from Okhla arrives for first meeting with Arvind Kejriwal at Constitution Club in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
New Delhi, India - Feb. 10, 2015: AAP wining candidate Amanatullah Khan wins from Okhla arrives for first meeting with Arvind Kejriwal at Constitution Club in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The Delhi high court on Monday refused to grant anticipatory bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Amanatullah Khan in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of staff for the Delhi Waqf Board being probed the Enforcement Directorate (ED), saying that repeated disobedience of the federal agency’s summons is equivalent to obstruction of the investigation.

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The ED case was based on a first information report (FIR) filed in 2016 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Khan. CBI said Khan illegally appointed various people to the Delhi Waqf Board against non-sanctioned and non-existent vacancies, which caused financial loss to the Delhi government and illegal gains to himself. ED alleged that the accused were involved in money laundering as it had recovered incriminating evidence, including three diaries which contained details of voluminous suspicious cash transactions.

Khan in February moved a city court with a bail plea, saying that he had an apprehension of being arrested by ED owing to him being under the federal agency’s scanner for his alleged role in the case. However, the court rejected the plea on March 1, following which the MLA moved the high court on March 2.

On Monday, the high court took note of the fact that Khan had refused to join the ED probe despite the issuance of six summons, and opined that MLAs are not above the law, adding that cooperating with investigating agencies by a public figure is public service.

“In this court’s opinion, repeated disobedience of summons of the investigating agency is equivalent to obstruction of investigation. Obstruction of investigation is equivalent to obstruction of administration of justice. Obstruction of administration of justice is equivalent to eroding trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. And eroding trust and confidence in the criminal justice system will lead to anarchy and diminished respect for the rule of law. Obstructing administration of justice, thus, thwarts the lawful authority of an investigating agency and hampers the legitimate investigative process,” a bench of justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.

“To conclude, an MLA or a public figure is not above the law of the land... Cooperating with investigating agency by a public figure too is public service, as the public is entitled to know from the legal representative about the allegations levelled by an investigating agency on the basis of statements of witnesses recorded under Section 50 PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) which are in nature of judicial proceedings and admissible in law, and on the basis of evidence collected during investigation,” the court said in a 59-page verdict.

The judge opined that Khan’s failure to cooperate with the federal agency had set a “perilous precedent”, and that refusal to assist, aid, provide relevant information and appear before the probe agency, amounts to obstructing the law enforcement agencies from performing their duties of investigating cases.

“When an accused repeatedly abstains from participation in the investigation, it not only hampers the progress of the investigation but also raises suspicions regarding their intentions,” the court noted.

Khan, appearing through senior advocate Kapil Sibal, submitted that no case under PMLA was made out against him since the trail of money had not been traced nor there existed any evidence implicating him in any acts involving the placement, layering or integration of proceeds of crime. Sibal, against this backdrop, had contended that the legislator had been falsely implicated, adding that though searches were conducted at Khan’s house, ED could not find anything incriminating against him.

Opposing the bail plea, the federal agency, appearing through special counsel Zoheb Hussain, submitted that Khan had remained non-cooperative in the investigation conducted so far as he had failed to appear on summons issued on numerous occasions.

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