AAP’s Amanatullah Khan sent to four-day ACB custody
Khan was sent to four days of custodial interrogation of the ACB for his involvement in alleged irregularities, including financial misappropriation, at the Delhi Waqf Board. The court said the Okhla MLA’s bail application would be considered after the end of his four-day custody.
A Delhi court on Saturday sent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Amanatullah Khan to four days of custodial interrogation of the anti-corruption branch (ACB) for his involvement in alleged irregularities, including financial misappropriation, at the Delhi Waqf Board. Khan is the chairperson of the board.
Special judge Vikas Dhull said Khan’s bail application would be considered after the end of his four-day custody of the ACB. The police had sought 14 days’ remand of the Okhla MLA after he was produced in court.
On Friday, the ACB had arrested Khan after conducting raids at four locations across Delhi -- Zakia Nagar, Balta House and Jamia Nagar -- during which it recovered around ₹24 lakh in cash and two unlicensed weapons, along with ammunition.
Additional public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava for the ACB argued that Khan had appointed some friends and relatives as employees in the Waqf Board, citing urgency and vacancy. He said that 27 employees appointed were residents of Okhla, which is Khan’s constituency, while five others were the MLA’s relatives.
The public prosecutor said that the legislator has to be taken to different parts of the country like Telangana, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Gujarat to ascertain the trail of money involved in the alleged financial misappropriation. Shrivastava then gave to the court a diary which purportedly contained entries of money transactions and cash allegedly given his aide Kaushar Imam Siddiqui on the behest of Khan.
In its remand application, the ACB said that in 2019, Mohammad A Abid, CEO of the Waqf Board, had opposed the recruitment of these 32 employees. However, Khan went ahead and made the appointments. Subsequently, a case was filed against Khan in 2020.
Claiming that Khan remained non-cooperative during the probe, the ACB said that the MLA’s physical presence was required to locate those persons/organisations been given huge amounts of money to carry out the offence. It said that the conspiracy and the other co-accused needs to be ascertained, adding that they “need thorough investigation of the MLA”.
“Custody is required to unearth the conspiracy, money trail which runs into hundreds of crores, investment in different parts of the country and to confront him with other persons who were acting on his behalf,” the remand application read.
The allegations were vehemently opposed by senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Khan, who contended that there is no documentation to link that the funds have been misappropriated. “This is the first time I was called. I went and I was arrested,” Mehra said.
Moving a bail application for Khan, his counsel said he will abide by all conditions imposed on him. “Let this be a test that the MLA is complying with the conditions imposed by the court.”
A sitting MLA, who was democratically elected thrice, cannot run away, Mehra said, adding he has always co-operated, and would continue to do so.
Saying that the arrest of the MLA is complete high-handedness of the State, Mehra argued that the arrest is the counterblast to two writ petitions filed by Khan against the Delhi Police commissioner in the high court, challenging the decision to declare him a bad character.
“There was no action taken against Khan despite it being a case registered two years ago. It was only after notice was issued in the petitions from the Delhi high court, that the investigating agency came into action to show the court that there is something against Khan,” Mehra said.
Speaking about the alleged trail of money in various parts of the country, Mehra said, “They can travel wherever they want to. They can write in any location. London, US – they can get a free trip there also. What is the endeavour right now? Application on police remand is made in a manner as if they are making it to a temple. You ring the temple bell and get 14 days’ police custody”.