NIA court allows ED to question Nagpur lawyer Surendra Gadling
A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling in a money-laundering case
A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling in a money-laundering case.
The ED’s case is based on the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case in which the NIA has arrested 16 activists, including Gadling.
Special judge Rajesh Katariya permitted ED officials to question Gadling on August 17, 18, and 19 at Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai where he is lodged.
In its plea filed before the court last week, the agency said that the accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case were members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and Gadling was involved in raising funds in collusion with other terrorist organisations to cause disaffection towards India.
To carry out their regular activities, the accused had received funds in various bank accounts opened in the names of their family members and Gadling was the prime suspect, it said.
Gadling in his reply said that the allegations made against him did not make out an offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). “Mere invocation of certain sections of the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act does not by itself attract the provisions of the PMLA. Nor does it give power to the directorate of enforcement to invoke its power.”
He argued that the NIA, which investigated the case for almost four years, had not made any mention of funds being seized from him. “In the entire chargesheet, the NIA has not mentioned about any unaccounted money found from Gadling or any links thereof. If the predicate offence has no mention of funding allegations, how the ED is probing the money-laundering allegations.”
He claimed that the ED had made a false statement about fictitious accounts because the NIA had searched his house, but could not find any link to such accounts.
Special prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves, who appeared for the ED, said that the NIA investigation was limited to the offence and it was the job of the ED to look beyond the offence and track down the money trail. “We are not asking for his custody. We just want to record his statement as we want to unearth the entire proceeds of crime.”
Gadling was arrested in 2018 and has been in prison since then. He was first arrested by the Pune police before the case was handed over to the NIA. The agency has arrested 16 activists for allegedly furthering the agenda of the CPI (Maoist) to overthrow the Indian government.
The NIA has claimed that speakers at the Elgar Parishad event organised by front organisations of the CPI (Maoist) at Pune on December 31, 2017 had incited violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day in which one person died and several others were injured.