New Delhi: A technical issue of jurisdiction today came in the way of arrested businessman Gautam Khaitan who failed to get any immediate relief from a Delhi court in a case lodged by the ED on allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
The issue of jurisdiction and power of a court to hear Khaitan's bail application in the case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cropped up when his plea came up for hearing.
As his plea was taken up for hearing by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal, who had earlier remanded him in ED's custody, advocate Naveen Kumar Matta, appearing for the agency, said that under provisions of the PMLA, only a special court has the power to hear the bail application.
"Bail plea should be considered by the special court only. This is our preliminary objection on the bail plea," he said, adding that for the purpose of remand, court of the CMM was competent to decide.
ED's contentions, however, were opposed by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for Khaitan, saying that when remand of the accused was given by this court, then why it can not hear the bail application.
"If remand order is not sustainable as it was not given by a special court, then I (Khaitan) should be released now. This court has given remand on the request of ED and now they (ED) cannot say that this court cannot consider the bail plea and it should be heard only by a special court," he argued.
Senior advocate P V Kapur, also appearing for Khaitan, said, "This contention by ED is immature... The custody granted earlier, whether it was ED custody or judicial custody, was illegal."
He added that there was no provision that the CMM cannot consider the bail plea.
After hearing the arguments, CMM Khanagwal referred the case to the district judge, who was on leave today, to decide on the issue of jurisdiction for hearing bail plea and giving remand.
During the day, Khaitan was produced in the court after expiry of two-day judicial custody and his remand was extended by two days by Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh, to whom the case was marked by the officiating district judge.