SC asks AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan to surrender before ED to escape arrest

New Delhi, Apr 15 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant relief to Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan challenging the Delhi High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of the Delhi Wakf Board.

A Bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta directed Khan to appear before the ED on April 18, 2024, at 11AM. Once this condition is met, the application for the issuance of the warrant will be withdrawn, the court directed.

The Court asked Additional Solicitor General ASG Raju to make the following concession. “You arrest him in case there is material. In case, there is no material, do not arrest him. You have to follow Section 19 PMLA. It should not be taken for granted that if he appears, he will be arrested.” Justice Khanna said.

Coming heavily upon Khan, Justice Khanna said, “You have messed up your whole matter by not responding to the summons.” “Repeatedly summons were issued, how can we condone that?” Justice Khanna asked Khan.

The Court, however, granted relief to Khan against an application filed by ED before the Special Court for the issuance of a non-bailable warrant against him subject to Khan’s appearance before the probe agency on April 18 at 11 AM.

The Bench expressed its reservations concerning certain observations made by the Delhi High Court on the merits of the matter in the judgment and clarified that these observations will not be treated as findings on merits relating to evidence or material relied upon by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The Case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board recruitment during Khan’s Chairmanship. On March 11 the High Court dismissed Khan’s plea after noting his conduct of avoiding the repeated summons issued to him by ED and not joining the investigation.

Khan then approached the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail and exemption from arrest.

Senior advocate Vikram Chaudhary appearing for Khan submitted that there was no evidence regarding predicate offence against Khan.

Chaudhary, also submitted that in January, a chargesheet was filed against four persons and subsequently they were arrested in this case. However, Khan was not formally arraigned in those chargesheets.

The Bench was not convinced by Khan’s arguments and made it clear that he must join the investigation.

Earlier a bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of the Delhi High Court had observed that refusing to assist or provide information to the investigating agency when lawfully asked and refusing to appear before it despite being bound to do so amounts to obstructing the law enforcement agency.

Khan had requested the court to exempt him from appearing before the ED as he being a public figure, was busy with activities in his constituency and thus could not appear before the ED.

The court observed that MLA or a public figure is not above the law and that the action of such figures is observed closely by whom they serve.

Justice Sharma also held that in upholding the accountability of public figures, the court cannot allow new jurisdiction of different sets of rules to prevail in investigations.

The allegations against Amanatullah Khan are that while working as Chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, he illegally recruited various people in violation of norms and government guidelines.

It is further alleged that Khan acquired huge proceeds of crime in cash from the illegal recruitment of staff in the Delhi Waqf Board and invested the same to purchase immovable assets in the name of his associates.

The ED filed a chargesheet against five entities, including three alleged associates of Amanatullah Khan, namely Zeeshan Haider, Daud Nasir, and Jawed Imam Siddiqui, who the central agency arrested in November last year.

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