Court flays ED for lax tax probe

Probe agency told to do its homework first

Court flays ED for lax tax probe

The way the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is handling the case of India’s biggest tax defaulter Hasan Ali Khan became evident on Wednesday when it failed on the second consecutive day to make out a case for his remand with proper jurisdiction.

It had taken the Supreme Court’s heavy handed intervention to make the ED move against Hasan Ali, but two days after arresting him, the ED was unable to convince the sessions court to remand him to ED's custody for 14 days.

The principal sessions judge M L Tahilyani, who had presided a special court which sentenced Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab to death for his role in 26/11 terror attacks, pulled up the ED officials for not doing their work properly and adjourned the hearing for the second time by a day. “You have not been able to make any case and you want me to hear you. If you want to do some homework, you can take time,” the judge said before adjourning the proceedings till Thursday.

Hasan Ali, whose different businesses include real estate, stud farms, and scrap dealerships, has been accused of stashing $8 billion in Swiss banks. He has been asked to pay Rs 70,000 cores as penalty for tax evasion.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court asked the government to consider bringing terror charges against Hasan Ali, because the investigators say they have recovered documents that suggest international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi transferred $300 million to Hasan Ali's Swiss accounts.

This money may have been used to fund terror networks, it is suspected.  The ED picked up Hasan Ali from his Pune residence on Monday morning and arrested him past midnight under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act  after prolonged searches at his premises in Pune and in Mumbai and sustained interrogation.

The ED has sought a 14-day custody for Hasan Ali, but the court did not hear the application and raised the issues of jurisdiction before going ahead with the proceedings. The judge said the matter should have been first brought before a magistrate.

Public prosecutor N Punde had contended that under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, a sessions court was empowered to conduct the proceedings and hence he had the jurisdiction. Hasan Ali's defence lawyer I P Bagatia too concurred with his views.

The eight page remand application includes Hasan Ali's statements as well as that of his former business associates Kashinath Tapuriah of Kolkata, and Phillip Anand Raj, whose offices too were raided on Monday.  Incidentally, Tapuriah is the younger brother of late Priyamvada Birla.  The remand application states that Hasan Ali is not cooperating with investigations and his links with Adnand Khashoggi needs to be probed thoroughly as it has a bearing on national security.

Comments (+)