The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is on the cusp of a great success in the Jain Hawala case of the mid 90s with more than half a dozen accused pleading guilty in the court for milder sentences.
Those pleaded guilty include Shambhu Dayal Sharma who had been accused of disbursing and receiving around Rs. 9.5 crore of Hawala money to businessmen, Hawala dealers and alleged Kashmiri militants in the early 90s.
According to court documents available with HT, Sharma had claimed to have given around Rs. 50 lakh to JK Jain, an employee of businessman SK Jain and alleged writer of the infamous Jain Hawala diary, on the instructions of persons from outside the country. On the basis of Jain Hawala dairy, the CBI had launched prosecution against many political bigwigs of the country but all the cases fell flat in the court due to lack of any corroborative evidence.
The Jain Hawala case started with recovery of 23 demand drafts of Rs. 15.50 lakh, in favour of various persons and payable in Srinagar, at the instance of Ashfaq Hussain Lone, a Hizbul Mujahideen operative by the Delhi police in March 1991. Lone had received money from Shahabuddin Gouri, a Rampur (Uttar Pradesh resident) who was in touch with Hizbul chief Syed Salauddin.
A hostel room in the Jawahar Lal Nehru University, belonging to Shahabuddin Gouri, was searched and police recovered Pakistani currency worth Rs. 570. On the disclosure of Gouri, another serach was mounted and Indian currency worth Rs. 24200 was also recovered from one Ishtiakh Hussain.
Later the investigation of the case was handed over the CBI due to its national and international ramifications. As the matter involved illegal cash transactions between India and aborad, the ED also stepped in as it was nodal agency to probe foreign exchange violations.
The arrest of Shahabuddin Gouri was just was just the tip of the iceberg. Gouri told investighators that he had received money from one Guptaji who was later identified as Shambhu Dayal Sharma.
Gouri was receiving money for Hizbul operatives in Kashmir on the on the instructions of Ayub Thakur of London, Mushtaq Gilani of Canada and Ghulan nabi Fai of the US.
"All three were basically working for the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and use to bankroll activities of Kashmiri separatists in India and abroad. Almost 20 years later after the arrest of Gouri and Lone in India, the US authorities arrested Fai in 2011 for working at the behest of the ISI.
After Gouri's questioning, Shambu Dayal Sharma was also picked up by the investigators. Sharma's questioning revealed that besides the Kashmiri militants, the same route was being used by many businessmen in India for sending money aboard or receiving it from outside of India.
Shambhu Dayal Sharma told investigators that he gave Rs. 16.27 lakh to Shahabbuddin Gouri. He was also charged with distributing or receiving around Rs. 9.5 crore to various businessmen and Hawala dealers in India. He use to deliver money on the instructions of One Mrs Jain of London and Tariq of Dubai. The real identity of Mrs Jain and Tariq could not be established.
Sharma told investigators that he used to get a commission of Rs. 400 for moving Rs. 1 lakh. When the ED took over investigation, they took on record the statement made by Sharma to the CBI.
Sharma also revealed that he had delivered Rs. 48 lakh to JK Jain, an employee of businessman SK Jain. Jain was arrested and his residence was searched. During the search, a handwritten dairy was recovered in which payments of around Rs. 65 crore were mentioned. The names of the recipients were written in code names and they matched with initials of some of the top political leaders of the country.
When the CBI didn't act on the Jain diary, a journalist Vineet Narayan approached the Supreme Court and his petition became the basis of famour Vineet Narayan judement of 1997 which gave constutuiona status to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and also a fixed tenure two years to the director of the CBI.
Under the monitoring of the SC, the CBI filed more than two dozen chargesheets in the court against many political bigwigs of the country but the all the accused were discharged as the agency could not find any corroborative evidence to prove the alleged payments detailed in the Jain diary.
But the ED also filed its around half a dozen complaints (equivalent of chargeheets in the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act or FERA which has been repealed as law now) in the connection with alleged foreign exchange violations.
Shambhu Dayal Sharma was top accused in the main ED chargesheet.
The ED got its first success when an accused Javed pleaded guilty in the case in 2001. Javed was charged with paying Rs. 1 or 1.25 crore to Sharma on the instructions of Dubai based Hawala dealer Tariq.
In 2002, Shahabuddin Gouri pleaded guilty accepting that he received money from Sharma on the instructions of Ayub Thakur.
Now 11 years later, Sharma has also pleaded guilty before the court.
Besides Sharma, seven more accused -Kamal Gandhi, Sanjay Nayyar, Kamal Kapoor, Ashok Khandelwal, Mohammad Ali, Tahawar Husain and Rohtas Shrama - have also pleaded guilty. They all were charged with dealing in Hawala transactions along with Shambhu Dayal Sharma. After convicting all the accused the court sentenced them to imprisonment already undergone during their judicial custody and slapped fine also.
Now only businessman SK Jain and his employee JK Jain are facing trial in the case along with one more accused.
Ashfaq Hussain Lone, with whose arrest the probe started in 1991 is absconding. Three accused-Ashok Kumar Gupta, Sardar Harbans Singh and Prakash Chand Lunia have expired.
"With 10 accused pleading gulity in the case so far, at least a chain of evidence seems completed. Now We have to prove our case against SK Jain and JK Jain mainly," said a prosecution source.