Delhi riots: Court rejects ex-AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s bail plea
Additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat also rejected the contentions of Tahir Hussain’s counsel Rizwan that there is no criminal conspiracy since the co-accused has been granted pardon.
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday denied bail to former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain for his alleged role in a money laundering case related to funding protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and orchestrating the northeast Delhi riots in February 2020.
Additional sessions judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat also rejected the contentions of Hussain’s counsel Rizwan (only first name) that there is no criminal conspiracy since the co-accused has been granted pardon. “The contention of the counsel for the accused that if one accused person is granted pardon, then there can be no criminal conspiracy since the accused cannot conspire with himself, is an incorrect proposition. What the law requires for a conspiracy is an involvement of two or more persons. The granting of pardon to one, on his statement and the stand of the prosecution, does not detract from the fact that they were accused in this matter for the offence of money laundering,” the court said in a 22-page order.
The court also pointed out that though the offence can be dealt with under the GST Act, it does not mean that Hussain cannot be prosecuted for money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) if a case is made out.
“…on prima facie reading of the complaint and material placed on record and considering the embargo of Section 45(1) PMLA, it cannot be held that the applicant is not guilty of the alleged offences or that he is not likely to commit any such offence while on bail. Hence, I am not inclined to allow the present application filed on behalf of the applicant for grant of bail. The bail application is accordingly dismissed,” the court said.
The court also noted the statements of the witnesses recorded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
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Earlier in October 2020, the court had taken cognizance of the chargesheet filed by the ED, noting that there was prima facie sufficient incriminating material to show the involvement of Hussain and co-accused Amit Gupta in these offences.
Hussain is currently in judicial custody after being arrested in connection with numerous riot cases, including one filed by the Delhi Police special cell over a conspiracy to engineer the Delhi riots.
The agency had arrested Hussain on August 31, 2020, to probe allegations that he, along with other persons, had laundered about ₹1.10 crore by using shell companies to fuel the protests against the CAA and the Delhi riots. Police have maintained that the riots were planned at the anti-CAA protest sites in north-east Delhi.
The ED said their investigation is based on multiple police FIRs. It said the PMLA investigation has revealed that companies owned/controlled by Hussain and his relatives allegedly transferred huge amounts of money to dubious entities/entry operators, which were subsequently returned in cash.
“The cash received by Hussain through entry operators was used to fuel the anti-CAA protests and Delhi riots. Investigations have also revealed that Hussain and his companies were involved in money laundering in the past as well,” the ED had said.
In June, ED had conducted searches at the residences and business premises of Hussain and his relatives in Delhi, Noida and Greater Noida. These searches had allegedly led to the recovery of incriminating documents and evidence, including fake invoices used for the fraudulent transfer of money, the ED claimed.
The agency is investigating two cases of money laundering – one against Hussain and another against Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation with fundamentalist leanings -- for allegedly mobilising funds for north-east Delhi riots.
In its probe against PFI, the ED has alleged that about ₹120 crore was funnelled by the organisation to fuel anti-CAA protests across the country. The PFI has termed the allegations “baseless”.
Communal violence had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24, 2020 after clashes between CAA supporters and opposers spiraled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and more than 400 injured.