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AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan’s plea for anticipatory bail to be heard by SC on Monday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan seeking anticipatory bail in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the Waqf Board during his chairmanship.
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 10:35 IST
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 10:35 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan seeking anticipatory bail in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the Waqf Board during his chairmanship.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta is scheduled to hear the plea of Khan in which he has challenged the March 11 order of the high court, denying him the relief in the case.

On March 11, disapproving repeated evasion of summonses of investigating agencies by public persons, the high court refused to grant pre-arrest bail to Khan.

Noting that the Okhla MLA did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) despite six summonses, the high court had said legislators should know that disobeying the law will lead to legal consequences as all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and an "MLA or a public figure is not above the law of the land".

"This court wonders whether a person's plea of being busy with personal or official work can be a valid ground on several occasions to avoid summons on the ground that he is a public person. The answer in this court’s opinion has to be in the negative," the court had said in its detailed order.

It acknowledged the right of an investigating agency to conduct a probe and asserted that it is for the public figure to "find time and appear," pursuant to any summons issued to him.

The money laundering case against Khan stems from a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR and three Delhi Police complaints.

The ED, which earlier conducted raids on the premises of the legislator, has claimed Khan acquired "huge proceeds of crime" in cash through illegal recruitment of staff in the Delhi Waqf Board and invested those to purchase immovable assets in the name of his associates.

A single-judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma had said the material on record is sufficient to prima facie show that the offence of money laundering was committed by Khan, whose failure to cooperate with the investigating agency "sets a perilous precedent" and it is crucial that he joins and cooperates with the investigation.

The high court had opined that the AAP leader's non-compliance with investigative protocols cannot be overlooked when an investigating agency has the right to conduct an investigation and perform their duties on behalf of citizens without any intimidation, influence or avoidance by the public figure.

The court had emphasised that "repeated disobedience of summons" is equivalent to obstruction of investigation and interferes with the administration of justice and ultimately leads to erosion of trust and confidence in the criminal justice system and anarchy.

If such a conduct is legitimised, the court had added, it will compromise future investigations as it forms the public opinion that skipping multiple summonses of any investigating agency is permissible in law.

The Okhla MLA had approached the high court after his application for pre-arrest bail in the case was rejected by a trial court on March 1.

Khan was not named as an accused in the charge sheet that the ED filed recently.

The agency has named five people in its prosecution complaint (the ED's equivalent of a charge sheet) that included three alleged associates of Khan -- Zeeshan Haider, Daud Nasir and Jawed Imam Siddiqui.

The searches were conducted in the case related to illegal recruitment of staff and illegitimate personal gains made by the accused by way of unfairly leasing Waqf Board properties during 2018-2022 when Khan was its chairperson, the ED said.

Several "incriminating" material in the form of physical and digital evidence were seized during the raids, indicating Khan's involvement in the offence of money laundering, the ED has said.

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Published 14 April 2024, 10:35 IST

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