The Delhi High Court, on Monday, sought response from the Central Bureau of Investigation upon a plea by a Hyderabad-based businessman seeking quashing of an FIR registered against him in an alleged money laundering case involving him and meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi among others, while directing the CBI to not take any coercive action against the petitioner till next date of hearing.
The Single-Judge Bench headed by Justice Mukta Gupta issued notice in the plea filed by one Sathish Babu Sana alleging that his name is falsely being implicated as a “suspect“ or as an “accused” when he was cited as a witness.
The Bench, while directing the CBI to file a status report, stated that the voice sample of the petitioner, though be collected and sent for investigation; however, it will be subjected to outcome of this petition as to whether the said voice sample has been recorded as a witness or as an accused.
In addition, the Bench directed the CBI to not take any coercive action against Sana till next date of hearing in light of a similarly placed co-accused Pradeep Koneru being granted the similar relief by the Delhi High Court, subject to his cooperating in the ongoing investigation as and when directed.
The matter is slated for next hearing on January 19, 2022.
At the outset, an FIR was registered by the CBI in February 2017 against Moin Qureshi and several other persons under relevant provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act levelling charges of corruption and obtaining undue favours from public servants and politicians holding high offices.
Pursuant to the said FIR, a case was registered by the Enforcement Directorate against the persons named in the FIR for commission of offences under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
The instant petition, filed through Advocates Stuti Gujral, Sahil Ghai and Shaikh Bakhtiyar, states that Sana was earlier not named as an accused when the FIR was registered by CBI in February 2017. It is asserted that he had cooperated with the CBI in relation to the ongoing investigation wherein he was summoned as a witness.
Subsequently, Sana was arrested in July 2019 by the ED on the ground that he was unable to give explanation for a sum of Rs 1.5 crore made to Moin Qureshi as a bonafide business expense.
It is further stated that in October 2018 CBI had registered another FIR alleging that one Somesh Prasad and one Manoj Prasad acted as middlemen on behalf of Rakesh Asthana, the then Special Director of CBI, and tried to save Sana from CBI action in the case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
On October 26 this year, the Trial Court allowed CBI’s application seeking collection of his voice sample for comparison with calls purportedly intercepted on Moin Akhtar Qureshi’s phone numbers. In this application, Sana was described as a “suspect”.
The instant plea also sought setting aside of the order passed by the Trial Court.