A Delhi court Monday extended by three days the ED custody of suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain in a money laundering case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was probing the allegation that Hussain and his linked persons laundered about Rs 1.10 crore funds, by using purported shell or dummy companies, to fuel the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the riots.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat allowed the ED's application for Hussain's custodial interrogation considering the period of interrogation already done. The ED had sought Hussain's custody for nine days, saying as he was still needed to be confronted with other voluminous record and substantial number of persons were yet to be confronted with him.
"Considering the period of interrogation already done and as per the record, the further police custody remand of the accused Tahir Hussain is given for another period of three days from today. The Jail Superintendent shall immediately hand over the custody of the accused to the concerned investigating officer of the ED. The accused shall be handed over to the Jail authorities by September 10," the court said in its order. It directed officials to medically examine Hussain every 24 hours.
It permitted Hussain's counsel to confer with him for a period not exceeding half an hour at the beginning of the ED custody. "The concerned officials shall ensure that they remain outside the audible range during the period. Needless to state that the accused and his counsel shall follow the necessary distancing protocols in view of the outbreak of COVID-19," the court said.
During the hearing, Senior advocate K K Manan and advocate Uditi Bali, appearing for Hussain, opposed the application saying the 15 days period for grant of ED custody has to begin from the date of arrest, August 20, and thus, further extension of remand was not permissible in law. Central Government Standing Counsel Amit Mahajan, appearing for ED, said the 15 days remand has to begin when his application was considered and allowed.
Mahajan argued that the probe agency had obtained Hussain's physical custody on August 31 after the Jail authorities handed him over to the probe agency after performing the COVID-19 test. ED's Special Public Prosecutors N K Matta said further custody of Hussain was required as he was still needed to be confronted with other voluminous record and substantial number of persons were yet to be confronted with him.
Complete and comprehensive investigation could not be completed within the custody remand granted by the court earlier, Matta said. ED had earlier told the court that Hussain was allegedly involved in money laundering and various other fraudulent acts of cheating, falsification and forgery of documents, and criminal conspiracy.
Matta had said the ED has seized several incriminating documents and digital devices after conducting searches at various premises. "Statements of several persons have been recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and WhatsApp chats, bogus invoices and other incriminating documents have been recovered," the public prosecutor had said.
ED further alleged that Hussain had entered into a criminal conspiracy by fraudulently transferring money from the accounts of many companies. The money so obtained are allegedly proceeds of crime which were then used for committing various other scheduled offences, the agency had claimed.
Manan had claimed that Hussain was a victim of circumstances and was not required for custodial interrogation as he faced the threat of torture. Hussain was arrested in connection with the riots in northeast Delhi in February. He has also been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a conspiracy case related to the riots.
He was also arrested in connection with the alleged murder of IB official Ankit Sharma during the riots. Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.