SC cancels Hasan Alis bail, grants ED 4-day custody

New Delhi: Pulling up a Mumbai court, the Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled the bail granted to Hasan Ali Khan in a money laundering case and granted the ED four-day custody of the businessman after observing it was "deeply disturbed" over the way the judge conducted the proceedings.

The Apex court cited "extraordinary circumstances" of the case in staying the order of Mumbai Principal Sessions Judge M L Tahaliyani on March 11 granting bail to 53-year-old Pune-based studfarm owner and denying the Enforcement Directorate(ED) his custodial interrogation,

A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said it was "deeply disturbed" at the manner in which the trial court judge had rejected the ED`s contention and granted bail while giving a lengthy order for it.

The apex court initially remanded Khan in ED`s custody for 72 hours but extended it to four days following a plea made by Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium.

"The way the proceedings were conducted, we are deeply disturbed," the bench observed, while staying the trial court`s order and wondered, "Why has the learned judge written so much?"

"The order passed by the learned judge has created an extraordinary situation which may ultimately frustrate the entire investigation. Having regard to the extraordinary situation, complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the case, we deem it fit to stay the order," the bench said.

The order was passed after the ED stung by the Mumbai court`s rejection of its plea for custodial interrogation moved the Apex court.

Earlier, making a forceful plea on behalf of the ED, the Solicitor General submitted to the court that the trial court judge had exceeded his brief and passed an unusual order for granting bail to Khan, despite neither the accused nor his counsel making any plea for it.

He pointed out that the judge had granted bail to Khan, while dealing with ED`s plea for his remand for his custodial interrogation.

The Solicitor General claimed the ED was in possession of incriminating evidence against Khan showing that he has stashed huge black money in various banks abroad.

He alleged Khan had withdrawn about 60,000 dollars from a Swiss bank and cited communications from Swiss official sources to substantiate the allegation.

Tahaliyani rejected ED`s plea for custodial interrogation of Khan on the ground that the agency could not prove any "scheduled offence" against him to justify its plea in this regard.

He had also slammed the ED saying some of the "confidential" evidence provided by it was available in "Wikipedia", a free encylopedia.

Khan is also facing a Rs 70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income-Tax Department besides the ED probe.

The ED had arrested Khan on March 7 after being pulled up by the Supreme Court for its failure to ensure his custodial interrogation.