Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Black money trail: SC orders adequate security for Hasan Ali, family

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today directed the Union and the Maharashtra governments to provide adequate protection to Pune stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, facing probe for allegedly stashing away black money abroad and evading taxes, and his family.

The apex court also asked the investigators to video-record the statements of the accused and witnesses as part of the probe into the case.

A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar directed the government to place before it by April 8, in a sealed cover, the CD and transcripts of 53-year-old Khan's statements recorded by suspended Maharashtra police officer Ashok Deshbhratar.

The court gave the order after the government responded to its posers on various issues, including security for Khan.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian told the court that the government was not at this juncture in favour of constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case of black money being stashed away in foreign banks and money laundering by Khan.

Contending that the agencies, currently investigating the case, should continue with their probe, Subramanian said the court may form an SIT to probe the case later if the agencies did not show result.

"At this juncture, an SIT should not be appointed. Wait for some more time as the agencies are involved in examining the matter. Any deflection at this point of time will prove far more expensive," the Solicitor General said.

He said the government has no objection in principle in video-recording the statements of the accused and witnesses during the investigation process.

Besides the Enforcement Directorate probe in the black money case, Khan is also facing a nearly Rs 70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income-Tax Department.

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