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Hasan Ali, Tapuriahs bail plea rejected

Mumbai: A sessions court on Friday rejected the bail plea of Pune stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan and his associate Kashinath Tapuriah, arrested in March by Enforcement Directorate which alleged that they had laundered USD 93 million in foreign banks and indulged in conspiracy to "wage war against the nation".

The bail petitions were rejected by Principal Sessions Judge, Swapna Joshi, who agreed with the prosecution that granting them liberty at this juncture was not justified.

Opposing their bail, ED Counsel, Ujjwal Nikam, alleged that Khan and Tapuriah had laundered USD 93 million in foreign banks.

He also alleged that USD 300 million had been obtained by Khan from sale of weapons. This, Nikam said, was reflected in some documents recovered during investigation which were signed by him and notarised in London.

Nikam contended that both the accused had hatched a criminal conspiracy with international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi in the trade of weapons. Thus logical inference could be drawn that they had indulged in conspiracy to `wage war against the nation`, a serious offence under IPC.

The ED counsel said that Khan had acquired passports by submitting forged and fabricated documents from various regional passport authorities like Hyderabad, Patna, Mumbai, Pune and London. Various offences were registered against Khan, Nikam said.

He alleged that Khan had transferred USD seven lakh from his Swiss Bank account to the account of SK Financial, London.

Nikam submitted that notarised documents seized from the possession of Khan mentioned that Tapuriah was his advisor.

I P Bagaria and Girish Kulkarni, lawyers of Khan and Tapuriah respectively, argued that the offences alleged to have been committed by the accused pertained to the period prior to the enactment of Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002, under which they had been charged.

The provisions of this Act could not be invoked even if it is presumed that charges against the accused were true because the PMLA did not have retrospective effect, the defence lawyers submitted.

Lawyers Bagaria and Kulkarni argued that the alleged offences against Khan and Tapuriah were not scheduled offences under part A of PMLA. Hence, the accused may be released on bail.

The lawyers argued that ED had already contemplated action against the accused under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and questioned how on the same set of facts the agency could prosecute the accused under PMLA also.

They contended that ED had filed complaint against the accused only under section 3 of PMLA and had not filed any further complaint under IPC for offence of "waging war against nation". Therefore the accused could not be charged with the IPC provision.

Countering the arguments, Nikam argued that the objective of PMLA should be considered by the court. He said section 3 of PMLA are contemplated in such a manner that continuity in action is necessary and therefore section 3 has retrospective effect.

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