Court dismisses Verma, his wife's plea for release from JC



New Delhi: The pleas of businessman Abhishek Verma and his wife for their release from judicial custody in the Enforcement Directorate's money laundering case was dismissed on Monday by a Delhi court.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gautam Manan also extended the judicial custody of Verma and his Romanian wife Anca Maria Neascu till October 1 after the couple was produced before him following the issuance of production warrants against them on September 10.

"I am rejecting your applications. The judicial custody is extended till October 1," the judge said.

The court on September 10 had issued production warrants for today against both the accused after they failed to appear before it as they were then in the CBI's custody in connection with a case lodged under the Official Secrets Act.

The couple had sought their release from judicial custody in the money laundering case saying the "continuity of their custody has been broken" by the ED as their judicial custody was "not extended" on September 10.

The couple, in their applications, had said they are "not in custody" in this case and granting their fresh custody will "tantamount to fresh arrest" and will lead to "severe agony and injustice" to them.

The ED had registered a money laundering case against the couple for allegedly receiving money from a Swiss arms-dealing firm to keep it out of the Indian government's blacklist.

Verma and his wife, in their separate pleas, had said although they were scheduled to be produced before the court on September 10, the ED "did not take any step" to ensure their presence for extension of judicial custody.

Verma and his wife, in their applications for release, had also said their judicial custody was till September 10 and "no further custody" had been granted as the ED had failed to produce them before the court, either physically or through electronic video linkage.

Verma and his wife were arrested on August 22 by the ED after they had moved an application to surrender in the money laundering case and later on August 27, their judicial custody in that case was extended up to September 10.

Verma and his wife are also accused in three separate cases filed by the CBI, including a forgery case lodged on the complaint of Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken.

Both the accused had been earlier granted bail on August 8 in a corruption case for allegedly receiving USD 5,30,000 from Rheinmetall Air Defence AG (RAD) for using their influence to stall the firm's blacklisting by the government here.

They were granted bail after the CBI had failed to file charge sheet against them within stipulated 60 days after their arrest on June 8 in the corruption case.

The CBI, however, had arrested them on the same day in the forgery case registered on Maken's complaint in the court room itself. Anca was later on granted bail by the court in this case.

They were accused of writing a letter to the Prime Minister in 2009 on Maken's forged letterhead for easing of business visa norms.

Verma is also an accused in the Naval War Room leak case in which Navy's commercial secrets were allegedly leaked to foreign firms. Ravi Shankaran, kin of former Naval chief Arun Prakash, is also an accused in the case.

PTI