A court in Delhi on Friday granted the Enforcement Directorate custody of Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar till September 17 in an alleged money laundering case, ANI reported. The court, however, added that the former state minister’s health should be the first priority for the investigating agency, according to NDTV. The agency had arrested Shivakumar on September 3.

Shivakumar was produced before Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar. The judge directed the agency to file its response to the Congress leader’s bail plea by September 16.

During the hearing, the agency sought an extension of the Congress leader’s custody for five more days. It alleged that Shivakumar was being evasive, gave irrelevant answers and was withholding information. “He took several breaks between the questioning,” the directorate claimed.

“As per probe against Shivakumar, tainted money is more than Rs 200 crore and there is Rs 800 crore worth ‘benami’ property,” said Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj.

“I am sure he won’t answer questions in the next five days either,” the court told the directorate. “Why do you need his custody?”

The investigating agency in its response said it had collected “voluminous documents” and statements by other accused which Shivakumar needed to be confronted with. “His statement was recorded to unearth the modus operandi,” ANI quoted the agency as saying.

However, Shivakumar’s advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Congress leader was not keeping well and required immediate hospitalisation. “His medical condition should be taken care of before questioning him,” the judge told the joint director of the Enforcement Directorate.

The agency had recorded the statement of Shivakumar’s daughter on Thursday. Aishwarya Shivakumar, 22, is an MBA graduate and an active trustee in educational institutes held by the family. She was reportedly confronted with documents and statements made by Shivakumar with regard to a trip to Singapore he made with her in 2017. Her statements were recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The case

In September 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had registered a money laundering caseagainst Shivakumar and a few other leaders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The case was registered on the basis of a chargesheet that the Income Tax Department filed against him earlier in 2018 in a special court in Bengaluru for allegedly evading tax and for alleged hawala transactions worth crores of rupees.

In late July and early August of 2017, Shivakumar managed the stay of 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat at a resort near Bengaluru ahead of the election for a Rajya Sabha seat. The Congress had put them up at the resort to prevent them from allegedly being poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Shivakumar was first raided by the Income Tax Department during that time.

The Income Tax Department has filed four cases against Shivakumar based on the raids since then. Investigators are believed to have recovered more than Rs 300 crore in undisclosed income, and cash and jewellery worth nearly Rs 15 crore.

The Income Tax Department said that Shivakumar and his associate SK Sharma used to transport huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through illegal channels with help of three other accused.

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