Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar, arrested in a money laundering case, was sent to the Enforcement Directorate custody till September 13 by a Delhi court on Wednesday.
"The allegations made against the accused are serious in nature. The investigation in my considered view would justify the custodial interrogation of the accused keeping in view the nature of the offence," Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said.
"He has to be confronted with voluminous incriminating material and other crucial aspect of the case with regard to the source of the money and his further interest in the other properties and accounts. Therefore, I consider it to be a fit case for grant of custody of the accused to Enforcement Directorate," the judge added.
The court passed the order after the ED sought 14-day custodial interrogation of Shivakumar, arrested on Tuesday night, claiming that he was evasive and non-cooperative in the probe and there was 'phenomenal growth' in his income while he was in important position.
Shivakumar, 57, was produced after his medical check-up in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
Shivakumar's counsel opposed the Enforcement Directorate's allegations and said that the Congress leader has already been quizzed for 33 hours by the agency and he is not a flight risk.
After the court passed the order, Shivakumar's counsel sought permission for the Congress leader to make appeal to his supporters, who have come in large number outside the court premises, to maintain peace.
The court denied the permission and asked the investigation officer to ensure that Shivakumar does not do so.
However, it allowed Shivakumar to meet his family members in the courtroom itself.
During the arguments, Shivakumar's lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dayan Krishnan opposed the ED's plea for custodial interrogation saying he had joined the probe and never absconded.
His counsel claimed that Shivakumar has not been given food today and seemed that it is 'slow torture' by ED.
Singhvi said the police remand is a rare exception and cannot be granted in a mechanical manner and the ED's plea for Shivakumar's custodial interrogation is perverse.
He was opposing the ED's submissions which told the court that income Tax investigation and statement of various witnesses have revealed 'incriminating evidence' against Shivakumar.
The probe agency claimed that he was 'evasive and non-cooperative' during the probe and there was phenomenal growth in his income while he was in an important position.
The ED said his custody is required as he has to be confronted with voluminous documents and to unearth illegal properties.
Custodial interrogation of Shivakumar is necessary as some facts are in his personal knowledge, it said, adding that he tried to misguide the investigation.
It said Shivakumar's interrogation was needed to ascertain the source of money and unearth the modus operandi and that he did not explain cash seized in search.
Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj and advocate N K Matta are representing the ED.
Singhvi opposed the ED's plea for custodial interrogation, saying the agency's submission was without 'application of mind' as Shivakumar has already been quizzed for 33 hours and he was not a flight risk.
Unless ED shows that something startling and new has happened, Shivakumar cannot be sent to its custody as he never absconded, he contended.
A bail application was also moved on behalf of Shivakumar and his counsels, including Krishnan, submitted that the whole case was based upon Income Tax search which started from August 2017, and the search leads to an I-T complaint filed on June 13, 2018.
"This is the foundation of the entire charge against me (Shivakumar). The remand application itself says Income Tax, and this is the offence with respect to which money laundering is done," Singhvi said.
He submitted that the Karnataka High Court has stayed the entire process arising out of the Income Tax case against Shivakumar and the offence under the I-T Act is compoundable (offences where, the complainant enters into a compromise and agrees to have the charges dropped against the accused).
The former cabinet minister and sitting MLA from Kanakapura seat had appeared before the ED for questioning on Tuesday for the fourth time at its headquarters here.
After a long session of grilling, Shivakumar was placed under arrest as per provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had in September last year registered the money laundering case against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
Shivakumar had to appear before the ED after Karnataka High Court last week dismissed his petition challenging the summons issued to him by the agency.
The ED had filed the PMLA case against him and others based on a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department against them last year before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his alleged associate S K Sharma of transporting huge amount of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with the help of three other accused.
Political vendetta has become stronger than law in this country: Shivakumar
Shivakumar later said that 'political vendetta' has become stronger than the law in this country.
In a video posted from his Twitter handle, Shivakumar is seen sitting on a chair with policemen standing around him.
"Political vendetta has become stronger than the law in this country," he is heard saying in the video.
Protesting Youth Cong workers detained
Several Youth Congress workers were detained on Wednesday following a scuffle with police personnel during a protest against the arrest of Shivakumar.
The protesters raised slogans against the government and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah outside the Indian Youth Congress' office in central Delhi.
While police barricaded the road leading to Parliament, a number of protesters tried to break through and jostled with police personnel.
"A number of protesters were detained, forced into two buses and taken to Parliament Street and Mandir Marg police stations," Youth Congress' media in-charge Amrish Ranjan Pandey said.
He claimed that some of the protesters were injured in police lathi-charge and were hospitalised.
A senior police official, however, said 66 protesters have been detained but there was no use of force against them.
Youth Congress president, Srinivas BV, said, "The BJP government is targeting opposition leaders to divert attention from real issues of unemployment and economic downturn."
Srinivas, who met Shivakumar at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital here on Tuesday night, said the Karnataka Congress leader's health has "deteriorated due to the harassment he was subjected to over the last few days".
The court should take cognisance of Shivakumar's health, he said.
"First Chidambaram and now Shivakumar. Arrests are being made without proper investigation and proper evidence. The BJP is indulging in vendetta politics," Srinivas alleged.