A Delhi court on Friday extended the custodial interrogation of Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar by the Enforcement Directorate by four days till September 17 in a money laundering case.
Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar extended Shivakumar's custodial interrogation after the ED sought five more days to quiz him.
The judge told the ED that it should take care of Shivakumar's medical requirements first and only then ask him questions.
"Before the examination of the accused, his medical check-up must be done. In view of his medical record, we cannot take his health for granted. Therefore, the investigating officer shall ensure that all due care is taken of his health and, whenever required, he is taken to hospital for check-up and treatment," the judge said, adding that the first priority is Shivakumar's health.
The court said although police custody cannot be claimed and granted mechanically, but it is also true that the investigating agency has to be given a chance to conduct a free, fair and full investigation.
"The pace of interrogation cannot be truncated when some material document and record remains to be put to the accused. Therefore, the remand of the accused to ED custody is extended till September 17," the court said in its four-page order.
During the proceedings, Shivakumar told the court that he is a law abiding citizen."They (the ED) summoned me and I did not avoid. I have nothing to hide. If you want to interrogate me, you can call me for interrogation anytime," he told the court.
In its order, the court asked the agency to ensure that the accused is allowed to take his prescribed medicines in view of his health condition and said he will be examined after every 24 hours or as and when required.
His family members or counsel will be at liberty to meet him for half an hour daily as per the convenience of the parties and Shivakumar allowed to meet his doctor Ranga Nathan, it said.
The agency sought a five-day extension of custodial interrogation of Shivakumar, arrested in a money laundering case, saying he was evasive in his replies.
Shivakumar, who was arrested on September 3 by the ED, was produced before the court on the expiry of his nine-day custodial interrogation by the agency.
He was sent to the ED's custody on September 4.
The probe agency told the court that Shivakumar, 57, was evasive and gave irrelevant answers during the interrogation, and many of his properties are 'benami'.
"As per the probe against Shivakumar, tainted money is more than Rs 200 crore and there is Rs 800 crore worth 'benami' property," said additional solicitor general K M Natraj, representing the ED.
The ED needs to confront him with voluminous documents it has collected so far in the case, Natraj and special public prosecutors Amit Mahajan, Nitesh Rana and N K Matta, said and claimed that Shivakumar was withholding information which was solely in his knowledge.
To this, the judge said, "I am sure he won't answer questions in the next five days either. Why do you need his custody?"
The ASG replied that there are statements by some other accused and Shivakumar needs to be confronted with them.
Senior advocates A M Singhvi and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Shivakumar, opposed the ED's plea for further custodial interrogation and said the Congress leader's medical condition is very serious and he must be in hospital, and he is suffering from high blood pressure.
Shivakumar has been in custody since September 3 and today is the 10th day, the counsel said, adding that he must be given active medical assistance.
"Just because there is power to give remand for 15 days, does not mean that it should be granted," the counsel contended while opposing the agency's plea seeking further custodial interrogation.
Singhvi told the court that the ED has not filed a reply on Shivakumar's bail plea yet.
"You (ED) have the right to not file a reply but you can't claim automatic remand," he told the court.
Singhvi said Shivakumar's 22-year-old daughter Aishwarya was also interrogated by the ED.
Aishwarya, a management graduate, was questioned and her statement recorded under PMLA. She is a trustee in an education trust floated by her father.
The court had earlier allowed the ED to interrogate the politician in custody, saying the allegations made against him were serious in nature.
ED officials had alleged that the trust, holding assets and businesses worth crores, operates a number of engineering and other colleges, and Aishwarya is the main person behind them.
The former cabinet minister and sitting MLA from Kanakapura seat had appeared before the ED for questioning on September 3 for the fourth time at its headquarters here.
The ED had in September last year registered the money laundering case against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
Shivakumar had to appear before the ED after the 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.