Court dismisses Hasan Ali`s bail plea

The Bombay High Court asks Hasan Ali to approach the special court handling Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases.

Mumbai: Refusing to grant bail to Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, accused of stashing away billions of dollars in overseas accounts, the Bombay High Court on Friday asked him to approach the special court handling Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases.

Disposing of Khan`s bail application, Justice RC Chavan told his lawyer that "why have you come here directly instead of moving the special court as directed by the Supreme Court?"

The apex court, while cancelling the bail granted to Khan by the special court initially, had asked him to approach the same court afresh for bail.

But Khan`s counsel, advocate IP Bagadia, today said his client had withdrawn the bail application in the special court because there were no prosecutors there. "In the absence of prosecutors, how can I argue?" he said.

However, the Judge remarked "in the case of this nature, the prosecuting agency will not allow its case to go by default. Moreover, it is for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to decide the issue".

Khan, who was arrested in the first week of March by ED, is currently in judicial custody on charges of massive money laundering, tax evasion and stashing away huge amounts in foreign banks.

Opposing Khan`s bail plea, Additional Solicitor General, Darius Khambata, submitted ED was going to file chargesheet in the next few days and needed Khan`s custody again for three days.

Khan is suspected to have stashed away USD 8 billion abroad, he said.

Investigations had reached a very crucial stage and granting him bail at this juncture would jeopardise the case as he was an influential person with wide contacts inside the country and abroad, Khambata argued.

ED had learnt that Khan had six passports and it was possible that he could be holding many more, Khambata said.

Khan had two cases registered against him on the charge of forging passport -- one filed in Worli police station in Mumbai and the other in Patna, he said.

Khan often travelled on different passports when he went abroad to manage his funds. He obtained multiple passports with the help of his associates Tapuriah and Pandey,
Khambata said.

The Additional Solicitor General further said that ED had in its possession a copy of documents purportedly notarised by Khan, which revealed transactions to the tune of hundreds of million dollars with international arms smuggler Adnan Khashoggi.

Khambata said Khan admitted to have travelled to Singapore to transfer funds from a Swiss bank to a Singapore bank.

He had travelled from Kathmandu (Nepal) although he could have gone from Kolkata or any other route from within the country, he said.

Khan`s statements, recorded by ED, indicated that he had contacts with influential persons, Indians and foreigners, working in foreign banks. If released on bail, he was likely to tamper with witnesses or documents, Khambata submitted.

The ASG argued that Khan had told the Supreme Court that there was a threat to his life while seeking protection for himself and his family.

Based on this statement, he should not be released because if anything happened to him it would be the end of investigations, Khambata argued.

Khan`s counsel, advocate Bagadia, said that in remand papers, ED had stated that no case of money laundering had been made out against Khan. In that case, he should get bail.