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The Delhi High Court On Monday issued notice to Robert Vadra on an appeal by the Enforcement Directorate against the anticipatory bail granted  to him by a trial court in a money laundering case. The ED has sought cancellation of the pre-arrest bail and the High Court has given Vadra, brother in law of the Congress President Rahul Gandhi time till  July 17 to file his reply.

The ED had filed the plea of May 24  seeking quashing of the quashing of the trial court’s April 1 order by which Vadra was granted anticipatory bail, saying the special judge had failed to consider the settled position of law that bail should not be “granted in a routine manner”, agencies reported. The ED has also claimed that Vadra was not cooperating with the investigation, evaded answers and may tamper with evidence.It has also challenged the anticipatory bail granted to Manoj Arora, an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP and a co-accused in the case.

In its plea, filed through ED prosecutor D P Singh, the agency has sought cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to Vadra, saying the protection given to him would be detrimental to its probe on certain crucial aspects, including ascertaining the exact source of the allegedly tainted money and the end use of the funds involved in the case.

Vadra is facing allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property, located at 12, Bryanston Square and worth 1.9 million pounds.The ED has alleged that Arora, a close aide of Vadra, was aware of his undeclared overseas assets and was instrumental in arranging funds. The separate pleas of Vadra and Arora seeking quashing of the case are also pending before the high court.

In its plea, the ED has contended that if Vadra is granted the blanket protection of bail, there is a likelihood that he may tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses in the case and that the trial court had failed to appreciate that he was a highly-influential person. It has claimed that Vadra was “non-cooperative” and in spite of being given several opportunities to come clean on his alleged role in the case, he remained evasive.

On the contrary, Vadra has “maliciously” claimed to be a victim of political vendetta and made all possible attempts to sensationalise the case, the agency has alleged. Vadra and Arora have denied the allegations levelled against them.The ED has said the other important aspects of the probe are related to unearthing the entire source of credits for purchasing the properties and ascertaining the details of all similar transactions in the accounts of the entities concerned.

The agency has said it will also require to confront Vadra with voluminous incriminating material for bringing the investigation to a logical conclusion.

Vadra had approached a trial court seeking permission to travel abroad and his plea is pending. The trial court, while granting anticipatory bail to Vadra, had directed him not to leave the country without prior permission and also to join the probe as and when called by the investigating officer.

According to the ED, it had lodged the money-laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case filed by the Income Tax department under the newly-enacted Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

It has alleged that the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for 1.9 million pounds and sold in 2010 for the same amount, despite incurring an additional expense of approximately 65,900 pounds on its renovation.

The ED has also said it has received information about various new properties in London which allegedly belong to Vadra, including two houses worth five and four million pounds each and six flats.

-India Legal Bureau

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