21 March ; The Supreme Court has granted three days of additional custodial interrogation to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of Pune stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan allegedly involved in money laundering activities.
At an extraordinary hearing held at the residence of Justice Aftab Alam on Monday, the apex court extended Ali’s custody with ED till 25th March.
Justice R M Lodha also participated in the special hearing which was held at around 7.30 pm at the request of the ED as Ali’s custody was coming to an end on 22nd March. Media persons were not allowed to cover the hearing.Though Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium appearing for the ED declined to speak, Santosh Paul, counsel for Hasan, told reporters that the investigating authorities had been given three more days custody of the accused.
He said the ED had sought at least a week’s custody, but the Special Bench had declined to entertain the request and granted only three more days.
The counsel said the ED also gave an undertaking that it would give necessary medical facilities to Khan suffering from certain medical problems and also keep the court posted about the progress of his treatment.
Khan was taken into custody by ED on 17th March after the Supreme Court cancelled the bail granted to him by a trial court.
The ED has questioned Khan, facing close to Rs 70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income-Tax Department, with regard to his past trips to various countries and his business dealings within the country.
Information on Khan’s properties in the country and abroad, both in his name or ‘benami’, are also being examined by the ED after it was rapped by the Supreme Court bench of Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar for not subjecting him to custodial interrogation.
Subsequently, a multi-disciplinary team of officials from Income Tax department, the ED, the Economic Offences Wing of Maharashtra Police and RBI have also prepared a list of “required updated information” to be sought from various business associates and firms in connection with the probe.
The ED has already asked the Union Home Ministry to study the charges against Khan relating to national security.
53-year-old Khan surrendered before the ED in Mumbai on 17th March.
A Mumbai court had on 11th March rejected the ED’s plea for custodial interrogation of Khan on the ground that the agency had not gathered sufficient evidence or made any case to justify its plea for Khan’s custodial interrogation.
The apex court on 17th March while directing Khan’s custodial interrogation also castigated Mumbai Principal Sessions Judge M L Tahaliyani’s order of granting bail to Khan, and said it was “deeply disturbed” at the manner in which the trial court judge had rejected the ED’s contention and given a lengthy order for it.
“The order passed by the learned judge has created an extraordinary situation which may ultimately frustrate the entire investigation. Having regard to the extraordinary situation, complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the case, we deem it fit to stay the order,” the bench had said.
The ED had told the apex court that it was in possession of incriminating evidence against Khan showing that he has stashed huge black money in various banks abroad.
It alleged Khan had withdrawn about 60,000 dollars from a Swiss bank and cited communications from Swiss official sources to back its allegation.
Tahaliyani rejected ED’s plea for custodial interrogation of Khan on the ground that the agency could not prove any “scheduled offence” against him to justify its plea in this regard.
He had also slammed the ED saying some of the “confidential” evidence provided by it was available in “Wikipedia”, a free encyclopedia.
The I-T department has raised a tax demand of Rs 50,329 crore against Khan, Rs 49 crore against his wife Rheema Hassan Ali Khan, Rs 591 crore against Kashi Nath Tapuriah, Rs 20,540 crore against Tapuriah’s wife Chandrika and a Rs 336 crore against a business firm related to Khan– R M Investment and Trading Company Private Limited after its assessment in 2008.