New Delhi, Dec 4: Alleged hawala dealer Mohammad Aslam Wani was denied bail by a Delhi court in a decade- old money laundering case which also involves Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah.
Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma dismissed the bail application filed by the accused, saying the allegations levelled against him were serious and the stage was not fit for the grant of relief. In the order, the court also considered the arguments advanced by the ED's special public prosecutor N K Matta, who had said that the only link to unearth the entire terror conspiracy the agency had were Shah and Wani, both currently in judicial custody, and if granted the relief, Wani will vanish and never be caught.
Opposing the application, Matta had also claimed that the allegations against Wani were of very serious economic offences which "could disturb the financial condition of the country". In his application filed through advocate M S Khan, 36- year-old Wani has claimed that the probe regarding him was complete and he was not required for further investigation. "They (ED investigators) have been investigating the case for a decade and still they are seeking more time. During this entire period, the accused was always available," Khan said.
The advocate said a 2010 trial court judgement clearing Wani of terror funding charges in 2005 case, based on which the current money laundering case was lodged in 2007, was confirmed by the Delhi High Court on October 31. "The effect of confirmation of acquittal of the applicant (Wani) is that there is no material left to connect him with the co-accused (Shah) as it was not proved that money was recovered or was meant to be used for any illegal purpose (hawala)," he said.
The ED had in September filed a charge sheet against Wani and Shah, whose bail application in the case was also dismissed on August 22. Wani was arrested by the ED from Srinagar on August 6 with the help of the state police and is currently in judicial custody. Shabir Shah was arrested by the agency from Srinagar on July 26.
The ED action against the two was in pursuance of an August 2005 case in which the Delhi Police's Special Cell had arrested Wani, who is alleged to have claimed he had passed on Rs 2.25 crore to Shah. In 2010, a Delhi court had cleared Wani of terror funding charges but convicted him under the Arms Act.
The ED had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Shah and Wani. On August 26, 2005, Wani was apprehended, with the ED claiming to have recovered Rs 63 lakh from him. It was also alleged that the funds were received through hawala channels from the Middle East, along with a large cache of ammunition.