Delhi AAP legislator Amanatullah Khan’s close aide Hamid Ali told the anti-corruption bureau that he handled the Okhla MLA’s “financial matters” and “all transactions” were made on instructions by Khan. The agency read out Ali’s statement before a special court on Saturday, a day after it conducted raids and arrested the AAP MLA in connection with a case of alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board recruitment. The court sent Khan to four-day police remand instead of 14-day custody sought by the ACB.
Ali was arrested earlier in the day as his property was among locations the ACB raided. According to officials, they recovered one unlicensed weapon, Rs 12 lakh in cash, and some cartridges from his premises. The Jamia Nagar resident was arrested under the Arms Act. Reading out Ali’s statement before special judge Vikas Dhull, the ACB counsel said, “I take care of financial matters of Khan. Khan had asked me to keep the ammunition, which was to be used at the ‘right time’.”
Opposing his bail plea, public prosecutor Atul Srivastava on behalf of the ACB told the court that the MLA was a “very influential person” and had to be confronted as well. Representing Khan, advocate Rahul Mehra informed the court that the sitting MLA had fully cooperated in the case that was registered in 2020, and that the weapons seized by the ACB had not been found in his residence.
To this, the ACB responded: “Yeh bade smart hain, kuch bhi apne ghar pe nahin rakhte (He’s very smart, he doesn’t keep anything in his own home).”
Khan was brought to the Rouse Avenue court after a medical check-up following which the case was transferred to special judge Vikas Dhull’s court. The ACB filed an application seeking transfer of case. While the court allowed the application, it also expressed anguish over it being “wrongly filed”.
The ACB, in its FIR, claimed that Khan’s “near and dear ones” had been appointed at the Waqf Board, and that Khan had received cash in crores while showing an income of only Rs 4 lakh. The agency said it was an urgent matter of investigation as Rs 24 lakh cash had been recovered during the raids.
Mehra denied the claims made by the ACB, and said there was absolutely no documentation to show misappropriation of funds. He said the case had been filed on January 29, 2020, right before the Delhi assembly elections. “He is a marked MLA. They want to defame him in the eyes of the public. They arrested Khan yesterday as they knew he was going to file a case against Delhi CP (police commissioner) regarding him being declared a ‘bad character’. The State has to be fair, it cannot go after people this way,” Mehra argued.
Showing videos of ACB officials being manhandled to the court, Srivastava argued that while officials were mistreated during the raids, people also “ran away with a lot of material”. During the searches, the ACB team was allegedly attacked by relatives and other persons known to the MLA outside his residence.
The ACB stated in its FIR that “ill-gotten” money was sent to Telangana and Uttarakhand. “He has shown his income to be Rs 4 lakh, but he is receiving cash in crores?” questioned the ACB, adding, “Rs 24 lakh cash has been recovered. This ill-gotten money was sent to Telangana and Uttarakhand. We are at an initial stage of investigation. We need to thoroughly interrogate this (Khan) man…”
Quoting from the FIR, Srivastava said a diary was found during the raids, in which there were entries mentioning “Rs 4 crore cash for Amant sahab MLA”. “There were irregularities in the appointment. Most of them were from Okhla, others were near and dear ones,” Srivastava further argued.
Responding to the matter of the diary entry, Mehra said, “Who knows when this diary was written and under whose compulsion? Is a sitting MLA going to abscond? No. He could have done that in 2020. He will continue to cooperate. The diary is being flashed as a publicity stunt because the media is here.”
Before being taken to court, Khan told mediapersons that this was the BJP-ruled central government’s ploy to “defame the Aam Aadmi Party”. “This is just to defame the AAP. Nothing has been found from my house. I don’t know anything about others,” he said.
Apart from Rs 24 lakh in cash, two unlicensed weapons were also seized during the raids at four locations. The AAP backed Khan, calling his arrest “a new conspiracy” of the BJP to implicate him in “a fake case and defame” the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
All about the case
According to the ACB, it had summoned Khan in a case pertaining to alleged financial misappropriation and other irregularities in the functioning of the Delhi Waqf Board, which Khan heads as its chair.
An FIR already registered in connection with the matter stated that Khan while working as chair of the Delhi Waqf Board illegally recruited 32 people violating all norms and government guidelines and amid allegations of corruption and favouritism.
The then CEO of Delhi Waqf Board had clearly given a statement and issued a memorandum against such illegal recruitment, the FIR stated.
“Further, it was alleged that as chairman of Delhi Waqf Board, Khan rented out a number of properties of the Waqf Board illegally with allegations of corruption and favouritism. Further, it has been alleged that he has misappropriated the funds of the Waqf Board comprising grants in aid from Delhi government,” additional commissioner of police, who heads the ACB, Madhur Verma said.
The ACB had issued a notice to Khan on September 15 for questioning in connection with the case. The MLA was called in for questioning at noon on Friday.