Hearing AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan’s bail plea on Tuesday, a Delhi judge posed some tough questions to the anti-corruption branch, asking what exactly was the loss in the case of alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board case and what was the criminality involved.
Special Judge Vikas Dhull is expected to pass his order on the bail plea on Wednesday.
During the hearing, the judge asked questions on the allegations that some properties under the board have been rented out “arbitrarily” and that the “benefit” is being reaped by Khan and those close to him.
After going through the ACB allegations, the judge said, “Where is the loss in this?” The judge also asked the agency about details pertaining to the property, in response to which the ACB officers said they are still getting details. An officer also apprised the court that they recently traced a property in Old Delhi after a lot of difficulty.
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“Property you have not found; what case will you make? What is the criminality?” the judge said.
When the prosecution was trying to explain why it had invoked the pertinent sections against Khan, the judge, while dealing with the question of misappropriation of funds, said, “This misappropriation? How it has come to him (Khan)? Did you take statement of those people that he took the money (from)?” the judge said.
Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava, who appeared on behalf of the agency, chose to cite the example of former South African cricketer Hansir Cronje’s match fixing scandal to argue that even though money may not have been cheated but “cheating was made out” since people purchased tickets to “watch a match which was fixed”.
The judge also asked why the police invoked sections of conspiracy but no Waqf board member was made an accused. He also asked why the agency did not intervene in previous cases of illegalities in recruitment of contract workers. “Why did you not stop before?” the judge asked.
“Rules were not framed. And in stages of being framed, they went ahead with the recruitment,” the APP told the court.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, who appeared on behalf of Khan, asked the court to inquire from the agency why they did not arrest Khan for two years.
The judge said, “I know their reply. Corona tha ji.”
Mehra told the judge that the ingredients required to satisfy the invocation of the sections in the FIR against his client were missing. “No such averment has come. How it has been misappropriate, whose dishonest intention, how is it converted to misappropriation of funds. Nothing is there, every ingredient is missing,” Mehra submitted.
Mehra told the court that the agency was silent on how the recruitment of contract workers was done earlier.
“Pick and choose policy, they can’t do it, they have to be fair. How this contractual posts were filled earlier, absolute silence on it. They (prosecution) said in the past if it (illegalities in hiring) happens doesn’t mean it can continue. Which is that rule which existed which I have not followed,” Mehra told the court.
He told the court that apart from Khan, no other member of the Waqf Board was made an accused in this case.
“None of the other board members are accused. They only cherry picked the chairperson. Take judicial notice of what is happening in the city. Anyone staying in this city for the past 7 years knows what is going on,” Mehra submitted.
Mehra told the court that the agency has not said that Khan “siphoned off certain amount”, not has it been able to show that “a single document showing that, yes, bribe was sought and given.”
“They can’t say things just in thin air. It has to be backed by evidence. What is the material even today? Taking everything as gospel truth; where is the offence? Where is the criminality? Saying hundreds of crores in Waqf property, saying anything in thin air. These are protected properties. Has a single property been sold?” Mehra submitted.
Mehra also told the court that the co-accused, Kaushar Alam alias Laddan, who was arrested from Telangana on September 21, was produced for police remand only on Tuesday. He argued that the agency was lax while dealing with Laddan, accused of being a fund manager for Khan, but asked for 14 days’ custody of Khan like he was a terrorist.
When Laddan was produced before the court, he told the judge that the property in Telangana which the ACB alleged to be worth several crores was in fact worth Rs 6 lakh. The court sent him to two-day ACB custody.
APP Shrivastava told the court that Khan, during questioning, failed to recollect the name of his chartered accountant, which “shows his non cooperation”, and that he also lied about having lost his mobile phone. The APP showed a video to the judge which allegedly shows Khan handing over a mobile phone to his supporter.
The APP submitted that they wanted to see some of Khan’s chats, which may have helped in the investigation, but he told the agency that when he was taken in custody, his phone was lost due to the media and crowd.
“What kind of person is he? He is handing over the mobile phone to the other person,” the APP submitted. Khan’s lawyers rebutted this by asking how the prosecutor was able to say that it was indeed Khan’s phone in the video.
The APP also read out the statement of two board members who made allegations of Khan mistreating them, disrupting proposals of videotaping board meetings, and removal of important files at his behest.