The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it would hear on November 25 final arguments on a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) challenging the anticipatory bail granted to Robert Vadra in a money laundering case. Justice Chander Shekhar listed the matter for further hearing after the ED’s counsel informed the bench that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was busy in the Supreme Court. The probe agency had earlier told the court that it wanted custodial interrogation of Vadra because the “money chain” in the case filed under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was allegedly directly linked to him.
Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was not cooperating with investigators, the ED had claimed. Vadra is facing allegations of money-laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — at 12, Bryanston Square — estimated to be worth 1.9 million pounds (over Rs 17 crore). Vadra has opposed the ED’s plea, saying there was not a single instance of his non-cooperation in the investigation and there was no risk of him tampering with any evidence as the agency had already seized from him every document pertaining to the case.
The ED was conducting a “fishing and roving enquiry” and has no material to support the allegations made against him, he has claimed. The probe agency sought cancellation of Vadra’s anticipatory bail on the ground that it requires his custody as he was not cooperating in the investigation. On the possibility of flight risk, Vadra said in his reply, “The conduct of the respondent (Vadra) in returning to India from abroad voluntarily upon reading press reports that ED was investigating him made it abundantly clear that Vadra had no intention whatsoever of fleeing the country and was determined to stay in India and clear the name.”
No specific allegation has been made by the agency to suggest that Vadra has in any way attempted to or actually succeeded in tampering with any evidence or witness, the reply said. “Vadra has no properties outside India whatsoever nor does he have any beneficial ownership of any property outside India,” the reply stated. It has added that Vadra has never received any ‘kickback’ for any ‘deal’ and any allegation of this nature is completely false.
Vadra’s lawyers have alleged that the sole purpose of the ED is to cause prejudice against him in the mind of the court and the public. While granting anticipatory bail to Vadra, the trial court had on April 1 directed him to not leave the country without prior permission and also to join the probe as and when called by the investigating officer.