Friday, December 1, 2023

Excise policy case: Court extends Sanjay Singh’s ED custody

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PNS | New Delhi

A special court here on Tuesday extended till October 13 the ED custody of AAP leader Sanjay Singh, arrested in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the scrapped Delhi excise policy. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) now has three more days to interrogate Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP, in custody. Special Judge for ED cases M K Nagpal passed the order on an application moved by the anti-money laundering agency.

The facts stated in the application filed by the ED and the case file produced before the court by the investigating officer reveal discovery of some fresh facts and recovery of some fresh digital evidence in a recent search conducted during the course of ongoing investigation, the judge noted.

He noted the ED’s claim that the oral testimony of a witness revealed the role played by Singh in grant of some liquor licences in Punjab. A close associate of the accused told a witness about Singh’s alleged involvement in award of liquor licences in Delhi for monetary consideration, the judge noted while extending his remand.

The judge, citing the ED’s application, said Singh’s associate has been summoned to join the investigation and both were required to be questioned with regard to the fresh evidence.

The court noted it is also being submitted that digital data of around 200 GB has been recovered during the course of fresh search which is yet to be analysed and the accused confronted with it.

“Therefore, in view of the above facts & circumstances and the submissions made, this court deems it necessary to extend the ED custody of accused for a further period of 3 days and he shall now be produced before this court from ED custody on October 13,” the judge said.

However, the IO is being directed to ensure that all digital data is analysed without any further delay and the above task of interrogation and confrontation of the accused and also the examination of relevant witnesses shall be completed by then, the judge said.

He ordered that Singh’s interrogation shall be conducted at a place having CCTV coverage and the ED will preserve the footage.

The ED’s application prayed for extension of Singh’s custody, which was to end on Tuesday, by 5 days, accusing him of non-cooperation.

Senior Advocate Rebecca John, who represented Singh, claimed the ED had no ground for seeking extension of the AAP leader’s custody in the case which was based on shifting statements of co-accused Amit Arora.

“I (Singh) will not plead guilty to your fanciful allegations,” she told the court.

At the end of the arguments on extension of custody, Singh claimed before the judge that the ED tried to whisk him away from its office with “ulterior motive.”

“After you granted remand (to ED) on the last date of hearing, at 10 at night, I was told that I was being taken somewhere else. I asked why didn’t they inform the court. They (ED officials) said there was some issue of chemical pesticide. They said they have got phone calls from people above. I told them I won’t go outside without the court’s order. They asked me to give that in writing.

“The next day they said the same thing. They had some ulterior motive. I asked what happens if I am killed in an encounter, who will be responsible? They said they will be responsible. What’s the point of responsibility when I am dead. Again and again, I asked for court’s order,” Singh told the judge.

The judge asked the ED why it wanted a written statement from Singh about his reluctance to leave its office. The central agency rejected Singh’s allegations of any wrongdoing.

“You should not take him away without the court’s order,” the judge said.

“Further, since the accused himself has also raised some concerns about his security in ED custody and hence, it is also being directed that the IO and other senior officers of the ED team investigating this case shall ensure the safety and security of accused in all respects, while he is in the ED custody in terms of this order of the court,” the judge said in the order.

The court, meanwhile, directed Singh to not speak to media while being produced, saying it creates security problems. The judge also directed journalists not to ask him questions.

“It creates security problem,” the judge said.

Addressing journalists on the court premises before production, Singh said, “Honest people are with us, dishonest with PM Modi.”

“Actions are being taken against those who are innocent and who are against them (BJP),” said Singh.

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