The Enforcement Directorate was on Thursday allowed by a Delhi court to take into their custody businessman Abhishek Verma and his wife for four days to quiz them for their alleged role in a money laundering case.
Verma and his Romanian wife Anca Maria Neascu, arrested by the ED on Wednesday in connection with the case, were produced before the court which remanded them to its custody till August 27 after the agency said that the case is having "wide international ramifications" and the probe is going on.
The ED told the court that it was the only competent authority to investigate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and that the duo's custodial interrogation was necessary to know the magnitude of the offence committed by them.
"...thus keeping in view all the allegations on accused persons, the accused persons are remanded to the custody of the department for the period of four days," Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gautam Manan said.
During the arguments, ED's prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta sought seven days custody of both the accused saying that the probe in the case is in progress.
"From the investigations conducted so far, there has emerged a prima facie case of violation of provisions of the PMLA of a very large magnitude having wide international ramifications involving a number of persons/entities including both the accused/suspects. These investigations are still in progress," the ED, in its remand application, said.
ED said Verma and his wife were involved in the offences of PMLA of very high magnitude "running into crores of rupees".
The ED had registered a money laundering case against the couple for allegedly receiving money from a Swiss defence firm to keep it out of the Indian government's blacklist.
During the hearing, advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Vermas, opposed ED's plea saying the PMLA does not empower the magistrate to order the custody of the accused and there is no complaint in this case before the court.
He said his clients are in "illegal detention" under the PMLA and the ED has not complied with provisions of the CrPC.
ED's prosecutor told the court that PMLA is a special provision and as per the provisions of the act, the accused are required to be produced before a magistrate after their arrest and a magistrate has the power to grant custody.
The court remanded both the accused to ED's custody and also said that they shall be detained in the CBI lock-up at its headquarters at night as ED does not have any lock up of their own.
"Since the complainant department (ED) does not have their own lock up as such the accused as requested by the department shall be detained at night in CBI lock-up at CGO complex...," the ACMM said.
Verma and his wife are also accused in two separate cases filed by the CBI. The CBI had lodged a forgery case against the couple on Union Minister Ajay Maken's complaint.
Both the accused had been earlier granted bail on August 8 in a corruption case for allegedly receiving $530,000 from Rheinmetall Air Defence AG for using his influence to stall its blacklisting proceedings by Indian government.
They were granted bail after the CBI had failed to file charge sheet against them within stipulated 60 days' period after their arrest on June 8 in the corruption case.
The CBI, however, had arrested them on the same day in the forgery case registered on Maken's complaint in the courtroom itself.
They were accused of writing a letter to the Prime Minister in 2009 on Maken's forged letterhead for easing of business visa norms.
Verma is also an accused in the Naval War Room leak case in which Navy's commercial secrets were allegedly leaked to the foreign firms. Ravi Shankaran, kin of former naval chief Arun Prakash, is also an accused in the case.