New Delhi: The Centre and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday opposed in Delhi High Court the bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan, arrested in a money laundering case related to the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal, saying he is the "master mind" behind the offence.
"The investigation of the case is at a very initial stage and the role of the petitioner (Khaitan) is of master mind for commission of the offence," the central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul said in a written submission filed before Justice V P Vaish.
The submission, a joint reply settled by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, representing ED, said, "The petitioner, who himself is a lawyer and is practising for about last 22 years has acted against the norms, prescribed guidelines for a legal practitioner.
"The petitioner by his conduct, has involved himself to such an extent in the transaction, that he has gone beyond the restriction prescribed on a lawyer under the Advocates Act," it said.
The joint reply was filed in response to the notices issued by the court to the Ministry of Finance and ED on October 30.
The court has now listed the matter for further arguments on November 18.
Khaitan, who is presently in judicial custody, has moved the High Court seeking bail after a trial court on October 20 dismissed his plea saying the investigation in the case is at a "crucial stage".
Senior advocate P V Kapur and Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Khaitan, had sought bail contending that he was a "soft target" and influential persons, who were also accused in the case, had not yet been arrested by ED.
The counsel had also argued that his client, who is also an advocate by profession, is in custody since September 23 and has been behind bars since then.