HC seeks replies from Centre, ED on Gautam Khaitan's bail plea

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VVIP chopper deal: HC seeks replies
New Delhi, Oct 30:  The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of the Centre and the Enforcement Directorate on the bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan, arrested last month in a money laundering case related to the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal .

Justice V P Vaish issued notice to Ministry of Finance and Enforcement Directorate (ED) directing them to file their status report by November 7. "Notice be issued to the respondents. They shall file the status report," the court said, adding that the reply be filed and handed over to the petitioner's counsel on November 7.

The court has now listed the matter for November 11. Khaitan, who is presently in judicial custody, moved the High Court seeking bail after a trial court on October 20 dismissed his plea saying the investigation in the case is at a "crucial stage".

Senior advocate P V Kapur and Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Khaitan, sought bail contending that he was a "soft target" and influential persons, who were also accused in the case, had not yet been arrested by ED. The counsel also argued that his client, who is also an advocate by profession, is in custody since September 23 and it's been over 35 days since he is behind bars.

Khaitan moved the High Court seeking bail after his plea was dismissed

They contended that the ED has named 21 entities in the case, but till date only Khaitan has been arrested in the case. "Till date only one (Khaitan) has been arrested and two others have been interrogated but not arrested," the counsel said, adding that former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi and his brothers have also been named in the case but they are still at large.

The counsel also said that Khaitan has deep roots in the society and is into a family business which is running for last 100 years, so there is no chance of his fleeing from justice and tampering with evidence in the case. "Let them (ED and Centre) point out, why I have been kept back.

During the custody also, the ED has not asked him any question," the lawyer argued. Khaitan was arrested by the ED under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act). The ED had lodged a case in July against Khaitan, former IAF chief S P Tyagi and 19 others in the VVIP chopper deal case to probe alleged kickbacks.

PTI

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