The sessions court will decide on Friday morning whether or not to extend the custody of Pune businessman Hasan Ali Khan, whom the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested late on Monday night.
The ED, which is investigating Khan for suspected money-laundering, requested the sessions court on Thursday to extend his custody because its officials needed to question him so that they could submit a status report on the case to the Supreme Court by March 18.
“We have minimum sufficient material but we need to bridge the gaps,” said Rajeev Awasthi, the public prosecutor whom the ED rushed to Mumbai from New Delhi.
“We will be able to do so if we are able to interrogate him in custody.”
Awasthi submitted a sealed envelope to the court at the start of the hearing and later told the principal judge, M L Tahliyani, that the ED had examined Khan 18 times already but that he had not co-operated.
“As it is an ongoing investigation, not everything in this cover can be disclosed,” Awasthi said, adding that the case was moving in a “positive direction.”
The ED seemed to be making all the right moves more than a week after the Supreme Court chastised the government for going slow on the case. March 18 was the second deadline it set for the government to tell it what action it had taken.
On Wednesday, the sessions court had also rebuked the ED for not presenting evidence to show that Khan had forged passports that he used to stash thousands of crores in a Swiss bank.
Income tax officials recovered documents and a laptop in January 2007 that indicated that he had $8 billion in an account with UBS in Zurich. He was the arrested only in December 2008 for submitting false information to obtain a passport, but he was released on bail in January 2009.
The court asked Awasthi whether the prosecution could establish an offence against Khan and whether it had original copies of the documents in the envelope it had submitted.
Awasthi said some of them were originals and that the ED had submitted all of these to the Supreme Court. The judge was not impressed and indicated he was sceptical of the ED’s contention. (See box ‘Where’s the evidence?’)
Awasthi argued that the ED’s investigations had taken this long after starting in 2007 because Khan and his associates were using newer techniques of money-laundering. Khan, who was present in the court, said that the ED did not have original papers. “They are trying to fix me,” he said.