Congress leader DK Shivakumar's Enforcement Directorate custody has been extended till Tuesday by a court in Delhi, with a disclaimer: The former Karnataka minister's health should be the first priority for the probe agency.
"His medical condition should be taken care of before questioning him," the judge told the Joint Director of the Enforcement Directorate.
Mr Shivakumar's lawyer, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, had cited his high blood pressure in court, seeking bail after his nine-day Enforcement Directorate custody ended today.
The probe agency had asked for Mr Shivakumar's custody to be extended for five days, claiming in court that he had been giving "evasive replies" during questioning.
"As per the probe against DK Shivakumar, tainted money is more than Rs 200 crore and there is Rs 800 crore worth ''benami'' property", Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj said.
The probe agency said they need to confront the 57-year-old Congress leader with the statements of eight people questioned by them, while making their case for five more days of custody.
Mr Shivakumar, speaking in court, said he is a law abiding citizen and that he is ready to give all his documents to the Enforcement Directorate. "I only have five accounts, but the Enforcement Directorate is saying I have 317 accounts," he told the judge.
Mr Singhvi argued that the former Karnataka minister has been questioned for 10 hours a day which amounts to 100 hours of questioning so far, and should now be given bail.
Citing the example of the death of P Rajagopal, the owner of the Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants, who died a week after he surrendered to serve a life sentence, Mr Singhvi brought up the high blood pressure of Mr Shivakumar and said he should be in a hospital right now.
"Yesterday, the (blood pressure) reading was 200/140, which is very high. Whether he is out or in, he should be in hospital... With his blood pressure shooting up, can't this man take a break?" he said.
The judge has asked the Enforcement Directorate to reply to Mr Shivakumar's bail plea by Monday.
Mr Shivakumar's 23-year-old daughter too was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday in connection with the money laundering case. Aisshwarya, who lives in Bengaluru, was summoned to Delhi by the probe agency.
DK Shivakumar, the chief troubleshooter of the Karnataka Congress and a powerful politician in the state, was summoned to Delhi for questioning by the agency last month, after the Karnataka High Court decided against the cancelling of the case and denied him protection from arrest in the money laundering case. He was arrested after four days of interrogation.
The Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against him and a few others in September last year for alleged tax evasion and illegal transactions worth crores.
Mr Shivakumar made national headlines in 2017 when he agreed to accommodate 44 party legislators from Gujarat at a resort to prevent them from being poached by the BJP ahead of a crucial Rajya Sabha election. Soon after, Income Tax officials came knocking on Mr Shivakumar's door. Several properties linked to the Congress leader were also raided in August 2017.
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