‘Bulky evidence’: ED seeks custodial interrogation of Unitech’s Chandra brothers

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday sought custodial interrogation of the former promoters of Unitech, Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, stating that it has “bulky evidence” against them. The Chandra brothers were shifted from Delhi’s Tihar Jail to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail and Taloja prison in Maharashtra, after the ED, which is probing the money laundering case, alleged they were conducting business from the Tihar premises in collusion with jail officials.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, representing the ED, submitted before a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud that the agency has enough and bulky evidence against the Chandra brothers and cited the ED’s status report in the matter. The bench queried Divan why they need the Chandra brothers for custodial interrogation. “We need a direction. We made an application that he be brought to Patiala House court. We have enough material. Evidence is bulky”, Divan contended.
She added that the agency has to confront them with evidence, and this process cannot be carried out via video conferencing.
The counsel added that they should be brought back to Delhi for proceedings before the Patiala House courts, after which the agency required their custody. Divan sought the top court’s intervention as the jail authorities in Mumbai declined to send them to Delhi, citing the court’s August 26 order that the presence of the accused should be done virtually. “There was an order by this bench that they be only produced through video conferencing”, said Divan.
After hearing Divan’s argument, the bench asked her to bring the contents of her submission in an application. The bench added that the agency should also explain why they need the Chandra brothers physical presence.
On November 10, the Supreme Court expressed its dissatisfaction over the delay by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in taking action on recommendations submitted by Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana in a report on prison reforms, after it was found that some Tihar jail officials were extending undue assistance to ex-Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra.
On August 26, the top court ordered the shifting of the Chandra brothers to jails in Mumbai following a report by the Enforcement Directorate claiming it has found a “secret underground office”, which was being operated by their father and Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra, and both his sons visited the office, when on parole or bail. The agency had alleged that it was done in collusion with the Tihar Jail authorities, and added that such practices from inside the jail defeat the purpose of judicial custody.

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