In a setback to the Enforcement Directorate, a court in Mumbai on Wednesday granted bail to Aamir Gazdar, an alleged close aide of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, in a money laundering case. Judge A N Sirsikar of the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court granted bail to Gazdar on a bond of Rs 5 lakh.
He shall not leave the country without the court’s permission, and shall cooperate with the investigation, the judge said, laying down conditions while granting him relief. During the hearing on the bail plea, Gazdar’s lawyers Taraq Sayyed and Mubin Solkar had argued that he be released as investigation was over and charge sheet filed.
Unlike Zakir Naik, Gazdar had not been booked in any other case by the NIA or other government agencies, the lawyers said. The ED had arrested Gazdar in February this year. Naik had allegedly established some ‘dummy’ companies in India and abroad which were used to camouflage diversion of funds received by him through his illegal activities, and he had named Gazdar as a director of at least six such companies, the agency said.
Gazdar was a close confidante of Naik, it claimed. The ED had registered a criminal case against Naik and others last December after the National Investigation Agency booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The ED also summoned Naik for questioning, but he has not appeared before the agency. Naik, who was already abroad when the case was filed, has not returned to India fearing arrest since some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror strike of 2016 claimed they were inspired by his speeches. The NIA registered a case against him and ‘unnamed officials’ of his Islamic Research Foundation under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and the UAPA.