New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the time it would take to collect evidence from Britain in a money laundering case in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.
Justice Sunil Gaur posed the query to the agency during the hearing of accused businessman Gautam Khaitan's plea seeking the release of his passport to visit London to hold meetings with his clients.
"You (ED) have to file response regarding how much time it will take to collect the evidence from Britain as you have apprehension on tampering with the evidence by the petitioner (Khaitan)," court said.
The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on April 27.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for ED, said the agency was conducting further probe into the money trail and feared Khaitan could tamper with the evidence if he was allowed to go to London.
He contended that ED has been collecting evidence in the case and two key persons related to the case are based there.
To this, the court said "you (ED) may be collecting evidence, but for that you cannot indefinitely curtail the petitioner's right to travel abroad".
Jain also told the court that the accused had bought his air tickets before taking the requisite court permission.
Khaitan was granted bail by a trial court here on January nine this year, more than three months after ED arrested him.
Imposing several conditions, the lower court had directed Khaitan to surrender his passport, not to leave the country without prior permission of the court and not to tamper with the evidence in the case.
ED had earlier alleged that a total of 70 million Euros (Rs 360 crore) was paid as kickbacks in the deal.
The trial court had taken cognizance of ED's chargesheet filed in the case against five accused, including two Italian nationals -- Gerosa Carlo Valentino Ferdinand and Haschke Guido Ralph.
ED has also named Khaitan's wife Ritu Khaitan and Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd as accused in the case. They were chargesheeted by ED for offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).