Pune-based real estate agent and stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan was remanded in one-day Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody here on Tuesday after the Principal Judge, Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court, expressed doubt whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the case. The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday when he was slated to decide on the issue.
Mr. Khan retracted from his statement that the ED officers recorded before arresting him on Monday.
Mr. Khan, who had been on the ED radar for the alleged evasion of tax to the tune of Rs.40,000 crore, was arrested on Monday night under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
According to law, the accused has to be presented before the magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. Accordingly, Mr. Khan was first taken to Sir J.J. Hospital here for routine medical check-up on Tuesday morning and later presented in the court at 3 p.m.
As soon as the proceedings began, Principal Judge M.L. Tahaliyani said he was doubtful “whether this court has the jurisdiction [to hear the remand application].” He said the accused should have been taken to the magistrate.
“It is difficult to entertain him here. [The] Magistrate can grant remand, not bail. Unfortunately for me, you believed me to be the magistrate,” Justice Tahaliyani said in a lighter vein.
Special Public Prosecutor Nidhi Punde argued that according to Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter. She said a special court under the PMLA could entertain the remand application.
Even defence counsel I.P. Bagadia concurred with the view. “[Mr] Bagadia supports [Ms.] Punde's view. I don't. I have my own reservations against the submissions of the ED that the accused arrested for offences under PMLA has to be produced before the special judge,” Justice Tahaliyani observed.
Ms. Punde said that previously, when Mr. Khan was arrested under similar charges, the magistrate had refused to hear the remand application stating that he did not have the jurisdiction. “This time, we did not want to produce him there first and then come here,” she said.
She cited the example of the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Madhu Koda, who was presented before a special judge when he was booked under the PMLA clauses.
But Justice Tahaliyani did not seem convinced. “The issue regarding Section 19 will be decided tomorrow [Wednesday],” he said.
The court took on record Mr. Khan's statement taken by the ED before arresting him on Monday. But defence counsel submitted a retraction plea to the court saying that whatever confession given to the ED sleuths should not be taken into consideration. The court also took on board the retraction.
The ED showed Mr. Khan's medical reports to the court and said he was fine. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with him. Regarding hypertension and high blood pressure, every arrested accused undergoes the same problem,” Ms. Punde said.
J.J. Hospital Dean P.P. Lahane told The Hindu that Mr. Khan suffered from hypertension and diabetes. “We conducted tests on him. We found that he suffers from hypertension and diabetes. Everything else is normal,” he said.
But Mr. Bagadia claimed that Mr. Khan suffered from liver cirrhosis as well. He said both liver cirrhosis and diabetes could be fatal and pleaded the court to allow Mr. Khan to be admitted to the J.J. Hospital.
The court ordered the ED that he be provided all essential medicines.
Justice Tahaliyani directed the ED officers to let Mr. Khan's family provide food and medicines to him.