Delhi court reserves order in Amanatullah bail plea

Published on Sep 27, 2022 11:31 PM IST

New Delhi A Delhi court on Tuesday sought to know from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) how the public exchequer had incurred a loss due to the alleged financial irregularities at the Delhi Waqf Board, as it reserved its order on the bail plea of Aam Aadmi Party legislator Amanatullah Khan

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New Delhi A Delhi court on Tuesday sought to know from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) how the public exchequer had incurred a loss due to the alleged financial irregularities at the Delhi Waqf Board, as it reserved its order on the bail plea of Aam Aadmi Party legislator Amanatullah Khan.

Special judge Vikas Dhull also asked the amount of loss to the public coffers and criminality involved due the alleged favouritism by Khan in the recruitment of 32 employees at the waqf board.

“Where is the tenancy? What is the loss to the public exchequer? How much money has been lost? Wo bataiye aap mujhe… Property you have not found, what case will you make? What is the criminality?” the judge asked public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava.

The questions were posed to the ACB during the arguments in Khan’s bail plea. The court will pronounce its order on Wednesday.

The ACB had arrested Khan on September 16 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.

The bureau has claimed that Khan paid a salary of 3.2 crore between March 2019 and March 2021 in lieu of the salary of 32 employees at the Board, which it claimed is illegal.

According to the first information report (FIR) based on which Khan was arrested, the Okhla MLA, while working as chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, illegally recruited 32 people by violating all norms and government guidelines. The FIR has alleged that Khan misappropriated funds of the Waqf Board comprising grants-in-aid from the Delhi government.

Further, it was alleged that as chairman of the waqf board, Khan rented out several properties of the board illegally amid allegations of corruption and favouritism, it added.

During Tuesday’s hearing, senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Khan, told the court that there is not even an iota of evidence against his client and no material to prove that he had made financial bungling at the Board.

Mehra contended that the ingredients required to satisfy the invocation of the sections in the FIR against his client were missing. “No such averment has come. How it has been misappropriate, whose dishonest intention, how is it converted to misappropriation of funds. Nothing is there, every ingredient is missing,” Mehra submitted.

Shrivastava argued that Khan had misused the grant-in-aid received by the Delhi Waqf Board and paid salaries to those 32 people recruited by him.

Citing an example of late cricketer Hansie Cronje’s match fixing, Shrivastava contended that even though money may not have been cheated but “cheating was made out” since people purchased tickets to “watch a match which was fixed”.

He said Khan is influential and there are chances of him influencing the witness or tampering with the evidence.

The judge asked about the allegations that some properties under the waqf board have been rented out “arbitrarily” and that the “benefit” is being reaped by Khan and those close to him. The judge also asked the agency about details pertaining to the property, in response to which the ACB officers said they are still getting details.

Seeking an explanation for invoking section 409 (criminal breach of trust), the court asked whether the investigating agency had recorded the statements of those whose names have been mentioned in a diary recovered from the house of one of Khan’s co-accused, Kausar Imam alias Laddan.

Mehra told the court that the agency was silent on how the recruitment of contract workers was done earlier.

“Pick and choose policy, they can’t do it, they have to be fair. How these contractual posts were filled earlier, absolute silence on it. They (prosecution) said in the past if it (illegalities in hiring) happens doesn’t mean it can continue. Which is that rule which existed which I have not followed,” Mehra told the court.

It also asked how Khan was associated with the misappropriation of funds, and said, “How has it come to him (Khan)? Did you take the statement of those people that he took the money (from)?” the judge said.

The judge asked how the agency did not intervene in previous cases of illegalities in recruitment of contract workers. “Why did you not stop before?” the judge asked.

Meanwhile, the ACB on Tuesday arrested Laddan in the irregularities case. Laddan was produced before the court from the Rohini jail, where he has been lodged in connection with another related case. The court granted the ACB two days’ custody of the accused.

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    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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