The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Enforcement Directorate to release the passport of NRI businessman Vipin Khanna, father of Aditya Khanna -- a partner in the controversial Hamadan Exports that was allegedly involved in Oil-for-Food programme in Iraq.
A Bench headed by Justice CK Thakker ordered that Khanna’s passport, seized by the ED on May five last year, be returned to him by February 15 after he agreed to certain conditions put forward by the agency.
The court ordered that he would make himself available at a two-week notice for further probe as and when needed by the probe agencies and the CBI would keep a photocopy of his passport.
Khanna has also been asked to cooperate with the agencies and present himself before the ED on February 12 and furnish his New Delhi and London addresses to the authorities.
The court asked him to file an undertaking in the form of an affidavit detailing the conditions within five days.
In fact, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam admitted that there was not enough material to justify continued seizure of his passport even though he maintained that the allegations against the NRI were quite serious in nature.
“Unless and until there is substantial material we are not going to arrest him,” he added.
Terming the probe agencies’ stand as “conflicting”, the bench said they could not drag on the issue any more.
The ED had been opposing the release of Khanna’s passport on the ground that there were serious allegations against and the ASG had showed some “sensitive” papers to the court in September last.
Then the court had said it would not be appropriate to pass any interim order permitting the petitioner to leave the country.
Showing the “sensitive” papers to the court, the ASG had told the court that his activities were prejudicial to the security of the country and the company owned and controlled by his family was one of the beneficiaries in the Oil-for-Food scam in Iraq. He had also alleged that Khanna was not cooperating in the investigation.