Money laundering case: Supreme Court denies anticipatory bail to AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

The Supreme Court on Monday denied to entertain the plea filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Amanatullah Khan against the dismissal of his anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court, in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of the Delhi Wakf Board.

Nonetheless, the Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta expressed their reservations with regard to certain observations on the merits of the matter made by the Delhi High Court in the impugned judgment. Owing to the same, the Court clarified that observations in the impugned judgment will not be treated as findings on merits relating to evidence or material relied upon by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

In its order, the Court also granted relief to the AAP MLA against an application lodged by ED before the Special Court for the issuance of a non-bailable warrant against him subjected to Khan’s appearance before the probe agency on April 18 at 11:00 am.

The matter relates to the alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board recruitment during Khan’s chairmanship. Earlier on March 11 when the Delhi High Court dismissed Khan’s plea after observing that his conduct of avoiding the repeated summons issued to him by ED and not joining the investigation. Challenging this order, Khan approached the Supreme Court.

During the hearing today, senior advocate Vikram Chaudhary contended on behalf of the AAP MLA that there was no evidence regarding the predicate offence. However, Justice Khanna shot back, stating that the leader had messed up the whole matter by not responding to the summons.

Subsequently, the bench turned to ASG Raju and told him that some observations had been made on the merits of several issues in the later part of the impugned judgment. To this, Justice Khanna mentioned that they should not have been done and like the credibility of Section 50 (PMLA) statement is not required at this stage.

Senior Advocate Chaudhary, in his attempt to convince the bench, submitted that in January, a chargesheet was lodged against four persons, four of whom were arrested in this case. Nonetheless, AAP MLA Khan was not formally arraigned in those chargesheets. Nothwithstanding, the top court bench was not inclined to grant relief and made it clear that Khan must join the investigation.

The court remarked that they are not inclined to issue a notice in the appeal to the extent it denies anticipatory bail. It also clarified that they have some reservations in observations of the impugned judgment regarding the interpretation of section 50 of the PMLA Act and some observations on merit. It added that the observations in the impugned judgment will not be treated as findings on merits relating to evidence or material relied upon by the ED. The issue is left open, the court noted.

Consecutively, Senior Advocate Chaudhary also noted ED’s application for the issuance of non-bailable warrants against Khan before the special court. He underlined the necessity for the withdrawal for Khan to appear before the investigation agency.

The apex court categorically asked ASG to make this concession. Justice Khanna suggested the ED’s counsel to arrest  Amanatullah Khan in case there is material. He added that in case, there is no material, he should not be arrested. He mentioned that the investigation agency should have to follow Section 19 PMLA and that it should not be taken for granted that if he appears, he will be arrested.

Subsequently, the bench ordered Khan to appear before ED on April 18, 2024, at 11:00am. Once the condition is met, the application for the issuance of the warrant will be withdrawn.

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