A single bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday recused itself “with a burning heart” from hearing the bail application of Afroz Hasan Fatta, a key accused in the Rs 10,000 crore hawala case. The bench said that it is not bound to reveal the reason for the recusal, and ordered the court’s registry to send the case before the Acting Chief Justice for placing it before another bench.
It is said to be the biggest case of hawala scam, and its investigation is being monitored by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.
Justice Z K Saiyed was hearing the case for the past three days on a daily basis. The hearing was expected on Friday, when he told the lawyers representing Fatta and the government that he is recusing himself. “With a burning heart, I am saying not before me. I don’t want to take up the case,” he said.
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Justice Saiyed also ordered after the request of senior counsel PM Thakkar, appearing for Fatta, to send the case before the Acting Chief Justice V M Sahai as soon as possible for placing it before another bench. Fatta has moved the petition in October 2014, seeking bail after his similar petition was rejected by a special designated court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Earlier this month, RN Sharma, a resident of Delhi, had filed a petition before the High Court opposing the bail petition of Fatta. Sharma, while requesting to be allowed to join the case as third party, had also levelled an allegation that Fatta was transferred from Sabarmati Central Jail, Ahmedabad to Navsari sub-jail in south Gujarat without seeking court’s permission.
Justice Saiyed permitted Sharma only to assist the prosecution on the law point for additional submission and argument. Fatta’s counsel Thakkar had vehemently opposed petition and heated arguments were exchanged between Thakkar and Sharma’s lawyer Siraj Gori.
Fatta is among the 89 chargesheeted accused in the Rs 10,000 crore hawala racket, busted by the Enforcement Directorate last year in Surat. The case also involves Mumbai-based bullion trader Prithviraj Kothari among others.
The Enforcement Directorate has revealed that the case has links with 2G scam as a large chunk of bribe amount obtained through the scam was remitted abroad using the hawala channel run by Fatta and other accused.