New Delhi, August 14
The Delhi High Court today directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to take coercive steps till next Tuesday against Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case linked to the AgustaWestland Chopper scam.
Justice Sunil Gaur said the ED was at liberty to direct Puri to join further investigation.
The court granted the interim protection till August 20, when it would further hear Puri’s plea challenging a trial court’s order denying him anticipatory bail.
“In the peculiarity of this case, it is deemed appropriate to call upon the respondent (ED) not to take any coercive steps against petitioner, with liberty to ED to direct Puri to join further investigation, if required,” the court said in its four-page order.
The court also asked the ED to file a status report apprising it about the development in the money laundering case linked to the now-scrapped Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal after Puri was denied anticipatory bail last week.
The court said the status report should explain “the exact role of petitioner (Puri) in (alleged) money laundering which is detected so far”.
The court also asked the ED the reason for seeking his custodial interrogation.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Puri, submitted he be given interim protection till the next date of hearing as he apprehends arrest and sought anticipatory bail on the ground that he was cooperating in the investigation.
The plea was vehemently opposed by Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi and advocate Ajay Digpaul, representing ED, who said that a non-bailable warrant was issued against Puri on August 9 and he was absconding and not joining the investigation in the case.
Puri, a businessman, is an accused in a money laundering case related to the chopper deal. The trial court had on August 9 issued non-bailable warrant against Puri on ED’s plea.
According to ED, Puri has not been joining the investigation since he was granted interim protection by court on July 27 on his application for anticipatory bail, which was later dismissed on August 6. — PTI