A Delhi court has granted the anti-corruption branch (ACB) four days’ police custody of Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan in connection with a two-year-old case related to alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board. This comes after the agency’s disclosure in court that Khan received Rs 4 crore in ill-gotten money.
Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Kumar Shrivastava, appearing on behalf of the ACB, moved a 14-day police custody remand before Special Judge Vikas Dhull, submitting that the agency needs Khan’s custody to interrogate him thoroughly and “confront him (about) how he received this money”.
The APP had relied on a diary recovered by the ACB, which allegedly listed several money transactions, to state that Khan had received ill-gotten money. He read out an entry which stated that Khan had received Rs 4 crore in cash. The APP then went on to state that the transactions were also recorded in Bihar, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttrakhand.
The APP told the court that the MLA had an income of Rs 4 lakh as per his IT filings.
The APP also argued that the team from the ACB was manhandled when they were undertaking a raid in connection with the case, and also played a video in court to buttress his arguments that Khan, if released from custody, would be a threat to law enforcement officers and witnesses in this case.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, who opposed the police remand, started off his arguments by addressing the claim that money trial had been found across several states. “They can travel wherever they want to. They can write any location. London, US – they can get a free trip there also. What is the endeavour right now? Application on police remand is made in a manner as if they are making it to a temple. You ring the temple bell and get 14 days’ police custody,” he said.
On the ACB allegation of irregularities in the Wakf Board, Mehra submitted: “There are thousands of judgements that if it is an irregular act, it can be rectified. Where is the illegality?”
Mehra told the court that the ACB has not been able to point out the provisions which were violated in connection with the allegations on irregularities in hiring of contractual workers, and submitted that it was on the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
Mehra then walked the court through the case background. He told the court that the case was registered on January 29, 2020 and the Delhi assembly elections took place a month later.
“What was the intention of the state at that time? This is a marked MLA – defame him when he is going to seek votes. Despite that he won with a handsome margin,” Mehra told the court.
He then apprised the court on Khan approaching the HC against the Delhi Police directive to declare him a ‘bad character’ of his area, and told the court that the agency “slept for two years” and no “action was taken” against anyone until notice was issued in that HC case.
“The minute we act, you react. This is a counterblast. State is supposed to be fair,” Mehra told the court.
He further submitted that the diary recovered by the agency “doesn’t mean anything”.
“What happens to these diaries when they come to trial? Who knows when was this written? All this has to be investigated. If you find something against the accused, take him to the gallows… will a sitting MLA abscond? He went back to the people and got a mandate. This is a fishing and roving enquiry. How is this related to this case? How is it related to misappropriation of Wakf funds? Nothing,” Mehra told the court, adding that there was nothing to show the Rs 4 crore was connected to Khan.
A case against Khan was filed in 2016, following a complaint from the sub-divisional magistrate (headquarters), revenue department, alleging that appointments to various “existing and non-existing posts” in the Waqf Board were “arbitrary and illegal”. The ACB registered an FIR in January 2020 under Section 7 (public servant taking gratification) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.