Businessman Robert Vadra has to be taken into custody and questioned, the Enforcement Directorate told a court today, opposing his request for protection from arrest in a money-laundering case. The investigating agency told the Delhi High Court it had uncovered a "money chain" that directly leads to Mr Vadra, the husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Mr Vadra, 50, is in Spain and is expected to return by the month-end. This is his second foreign trip with permission from a special CBI court.
He was granted pre-arrest bail on April 1 by the CBI court, which said he must ask for court permission to fly out of the country. The Enforcement Directorate challenged the bail on May 24 and requested the High Court to cancel it. The request was heard first in June, then adjourned to July and later, to today.
Today too, the hearing was posted to November 5 in less than five minutes.
The investigators argue that Mr Vadra has been non-cooperative and "evasive" in his questioning. They have given 10 instances where they claim his answers contradicted those of his associates and 18 examples where he had been evasive.
Mr Vadra was not cooperating with the investigation, the Enforcement Directorate said before Justice Chandra Shekhar.
Mr Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is accused of money laundering in the purchase of a mansion at 12, Bryanston Square in London, which has an estimated value of 1.9 million pounds. He has also been battling allegations of shadowy land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan.
Mr Vadra's lawyer, denying the agency's charge, said his client had cooperated in the investigation by appearing whenever summoned. "Not confessing" to allegations does not mean he is not cooperating, he said.
Mr Vadra insists there is not a single instance of his non-cooperation and that there is no risk of him tampering with any evidence as the agency had already seized from him every document related to the case.
The Enforcement Directorate is carrying out a "fishing and roving enquiry" and has no material to support the allegations made against him, he said.
On the allegation that he is a flight risk, Mr Vadra said, "The conduct of the respondent (Vadra) in returning to India from abroad voluntarily upon reading press reports that Enforcement Directorate was investigating him made it abundantly clear that Mr Vadra had no intention of whatsoever of fleeing the country and was determined to stay in India and clear his name."
He also argued that he had volunteered to appear before the probe agency without even a summons.
No specific allegation has been made by the agency to suggest that Mr Vadra has in any way attempted to or actually succeeded in tampering with any evidence or witness, it said.
"Mr Vadra has no properties outside India whatsoever nor does he have any beneficial ownership of any property outside India," his lawyer said.
Robert Vadra was directed on April 1 to not leave the country without permission by the Delhi court which had granted him conditional anticipatory bail.
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