The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Centre and the Maharashtra governments to give adequate protection to accused Hassan Ali Khan and his family — facing black money probe — following a written request from the Pune stud farm owner.
A bench of justice B Sudershan Reddy and justice SS Nijjar, however, expressed surprise over the government's plea regarding protection to ED officials involved in the probe.
"The Union of India needs Supreme Court's direction to do its duty," it wondered. Even in Khan's protection was the duty of the government, it added.
Ordering video/ audio recording of interrogation of accused/ witnesses henceforth, the bench also asked the ED to place before it the CD and transcript Khan's interrogation by Maharashtra police officer Ashok Deshbhratar, who has since been suspended by the state, before April 8 (next date of hearing).
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, one of the petitioners, told the court that Deshbhratar was suspended six days after he sought the state home secretary's permission to intervene in the proceedings before the SC. The bench said the officer was free to move the court.
Alleging "cover up" attempts, the senior counsel Anil B Divan demanded on behalf of the petitioners that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be set up to probe the case.
As Solicitor General Gopal Subramanuim expressed reservations about setting up an SIT at this juncture, the court expressed its displeasure over the direction and pace of the probe, saying there was no substantial progress in tracking the source of money.
"The manner in which it (investigation) has proceeded since 2008 makes it clear that there has not been substantial progress in the investigation. The speed at which the investigation ought to have been done has not been done," it said, pointing out that certain individuals had not been questioned despite the agencies knowing their alleged involvement.
"It is not that they were foreigners. All of them were here but in three years we find that you have not done anything... You have been investigating it since 2008. The fundamental question is about the sources of money," it said. The SC also refused to change its order cancelling the bail granted to Khan.