In a setback to senior Congress leader and former Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar, a special Enforcement Directorate court in New Delhi on Wednesday sent him to ED custody till September 13. The court said that family members and lawyers can meet him only for 15 and 30 minutes respectively on a daily basis. The court has also allowed his personal doctor to meet him.
Incidentally, minutes before the judgement on his bail hearing, Shivakumar tweeted a video where he is heard saying, â€śPolitical vendetta has become more stronger than the law in this country.â€ť
Political Vendetta has become more stronger than the law in this country pic.twitter.com/Ylo7QhBkKnâ€” DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) September 4, 2019
Assistant Solicitor General KM Nataraj and Amit Mahajan, the EDâ€ťs standing counsel appearing for the prosecution, sought 14 days custody of Shivakumar, claiming that the former minister has been evasive. They argued that statements given by witnesses have revealed incriminating evidence against DK Shivakumar and that there was a need for further custodial interrogation.
â€śHis custodial interrogation is necessary to determine the exact source of the money and unearth the modus operandi. Some facts are still in his personal knowledge,â€ť Nataraj told the court.
â€śHe (DKS) has made every conscious effort to misguide the investigation. He still has not explained the cash seized during the search operation,â€ť he added. Nataraj further said that Shivakumar has committed a "great economic offence" and the Central Bureau of Investigation has been informed of the same.
Senior Congress leader and veteran lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared for Shivakumar in the Rouse Avenue court. Shivakumar had sought bail on health grounds.
Arguing for Shivakumar, Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that he prayed for conditional bail or â€śno police custody even for a minuteâ€ť. He argued that the EDâ€™s case was based on Shivakumar not admitting to the crimes he was accused of. Shivakumar was therefore protected by Article 20 of the Constitution (no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself), he said. Singhvi, reading various judgements on the point, insisted that the purpose of the interrogation was not for the purpose of confession.
â€śIf the accused has to speak the truth according to the prosecutor, what's the need of a judge then?â€ť Singhvi told the court as part of the lengthy bail proceedings on Wednesday.
Shivakumar, who faced arrest late on Tuesday evening, was taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital after doctors advised him rest during the mandatory health checkup on Tuesday night.
Before he was produced in court, attempts by the Congress top leadership, including AICC-Karnataka-in-charge and even his brother DK Suresh, Bengaluru Rural MP, to meet him failed.
He has been arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and section 120 B of the Income Tax Act after the Income Tax Department filed a chargesheet against the Congress leader in the Economic Offences Court in 2018.
Income Tax sleuths have accused DK Shivakumar of developing a hawala network to funnel money to the Congress high command. The Income Tax Department allegedly found Rs 8.83 crore unaccounted cash in New Delhi and accused DK Shivakumar of purchasing various properties in the national capital via the money that was funnelled through the alleged hawala network. In its complaint before the Special Court for Economic Offences, the I-T sleuths had alleged that DK Shivakumar had sent the cash to the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
Meanwhile, protests which had started in Ramanagara, the home district of Shivakumar, spread to many districts in the state including capital Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubbali, Kodagu and other areas. Angry supporters burnt tyres, pelted stones and even burnt two KSRTC buses.
Schools in Ramanagara remain closed and bus services in the entire district have been paralysed. Traffic in the Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway is being diverted through Magadi, Huliyurudurga, Maddur and Mandya.
Former CM SIddarmaiah was seen leading the protests in Mysuru while KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao took part in protests in Bengaluru. Former Minister Ramnath Rai led the protest in Mangaluru.