Supreme Court Refuses AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan's Anticipatory Bail In Money Laundering Case

The allegations of money laundering in the Delhi Waqf Board during Khan's chairmanship originated from an FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and three complaints lodged by the Delhi Police

Amanatullah Khan

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan's anticipatory bail application in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board during his chairmanship and instructed him to participate in the investigation.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta asked Khan to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on April 18 at 11 a.m.

"You arrest him in case if there is material and in case there is no material don't arrest him. You will have to follow the procedure under section 19 of the PMLA. We take it that you will not arrest him unless you satisfy yourself with regard to section 19. It should not be taken for granted that if he appears, he will be arrested," the bench told Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the ED.

Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) allows ED to arrest a person based on material in its possession that suggests the person has committed an offence punishable under the law.

The bench noted certain observations made in the March 11 verdict of the Delhi High Court regarding the merit of the case, clarifying they would not affect the matter.

"We are not inclined to entertain the present SLP to the extent that it denies the benefit of anticipatory bail to the petitioner. However, we clarify that we have some reservations on certain observations made in the impugned judgement with regard to interpretation of section 50 of the PMLA and some observations on merits," the bench said in its order.

It added, "However, we clarify that the said observations made in the impugned judgement will not be treated as findings on merits relating to the evidence and materials relied upon by the respondent- ED. The issue is left open."

The allegations of money laundering against Khan stemmed from an FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and three complaints lodged by the Delhi Police.

The Enforcement Directorate, which had carried out searches at the leader's properties, alleged that Khan obtained a significant amount of money from illegal staff recruitment at the Delhi Waqf Board and used it to buy properties in the name of his associates.

The bench also voiced its displeasure over Khan skipping ED summonses.

"What has happened is this… Repeated summons were issued and you did not appear. That's wrong. How can we condone that?" the bench told senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, who appeared for Khan.

It said the ED has now collected evidence which it did not have when Khan was granted bail in the CBI matter and that he needs to be confronted with the evidence gathered thereafter.

Asserting that there was no allegation of bribery or acquiring disproportionate assets against Khan, Chaudhari said, "There is nothing in the scheduled offence (main case of corruption) which is the subject matter of PMLA."

The bench asked the defence lawyer to raise these contentions before the trial court.

It told Raju, "There are certain observations in the impugned judgement in the later part, which goes into the merit of the matter. That should not have been there."

The bench dismissed the plea for protection from arrest and the assurance of Khan's appearance before the probe agency.

"Mr Chaudhari, look you have to appear (before the ED) and the only question before us is with regard to expunging certain observations in the impugned judgement," the bench said.

The senior lawyer submitted the ED had visited Khan's house in October last year and recorded his statements. "They have taken all my bank statements. In January 2024, they filed a prosecution complaint (ED's equivalent of chargesheet) against four people, who they had arrested. They did not array me as an accused. After that they have issued summons," he said, making a pitch for bail.

The bench told Chaudhari there are two orders in favour of Khan in the CBI's case and another complaint.

"You can rely on those orders. They (ED) will have to give you grounds of arrest, if suppose they want to arrest you. I don't know whether they are going to arrest you or not. But you must join the investigation," Justice Khanna said.

The high court had refused to grant pre-arrest bail to Khan on March 11 while voicing its disapproval of public persons evading repeated summonses by probe agencies. The trial court had turned down his anticipatory bail plea on March 1.

Khan was not named as an accused in the charge sheet that the ED filed recently.

The agency has named four people in its prosecution complaint that included three alleged associates of Khan -- Zeeshan Haider, Daud Nasir and Jawed Imam Siddiqui.

Searches were conducted in the case related to illegal recruitment of staff and alleged illegitimate personal gains made by the accused by way of unfairly leasing Waqf Board properties during 2018-2022 when Khan was its chairperson, the ED said.

Several "incriminating" material in the form of physical and digital evidence were seized during the raids, indicating Khan's involvement in the offence of money laundering, it alleged.


(With PTI inputs)