The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted searches at six offices of three close associates of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in a case related to assets held abroad through proceeds of crime generated from defence deals.
The Congress slammed the ED raids against Vadra’s associates in the national Capital, NCR and Bengaluru and said an “unnerved” Modi Government was unleashing “vendetta” against party chief Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law to divert the narrative.
Vadra on his part communicated through his lawyers that ED raids to his client did not show any search warrant. “They did not show any search warrant, broke the locks and now preventing people from coming out,” Vadra’s lawyer Suman Khetan said. He said ED officials questioned Vadra’s associates and alleged that “false evidence” could be planted during the search.
The ED claimed that searches against Vadra’s aides/former employees were conducted over alleged commission received by accused persons in defence deals but refused to divulge the details of the deal or those searched.
“The searches on the premises of the three accused persons were related to alleged commission received by some suspects in defence deals,” said an ED official.
When asked by reporters about the details of the defence deal and the case, the ED official refused to comment, and said, “We will disclose it later.”
Sources said the searches were conducted at the office of Skylight Hospitality at 268, Sukhdev Vihar and at an undisclosed premise at KG Marg in the Capital and at one location in Noida besides certain locations in Bengaluru.
The searches come two days after the ED issued summons to Vadra in connection with the money laundering probe in the Bikaner land scam case.
Coming to the defence of Vadra, the Congress said the politics of revenge and malicious vendetta has reached its nadir and the PM is acting like a ‘don’ lording over a criminal empire to persecute and hound everyone opposed to him.
“Sure shot defeat in five States unnerves the Modi Government to again use the old tools — unleash revenge & vendetta against Vadra to divert the narrative. Such cowardice and intimidation will not subjugate either the Congress Party or the will of people,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a late evening Press conference.
The Congress alleged that during last 54 months, the Modi Government has let loose a criminal conspiracy to vilify, denigrate and malign Vadra to settle political scores. As all else failed, the Modi Government has unleashed all its agencies including ED, CBI and Income Tax to victimise Vadra in an utterly mala fide manner, Surjewala said in a statement.
“The Congress fought the British and decimated them to win Independence for India. A despotic Prime Minister and a Government mired in crime can never deter the Congress party or the people of this country from speaking the truth,” said Surjewala.
Vadra’s lawyer Suman Khaitan said, “Politics of revenge and malicious vendetta has today reached its nadir. For 5 years, the present rulers have used every trick in the book to persecute, to hound and to malign my client, Vadra. Government has unleashed all its agencies including ED, CBI & Income Tax to victimise Vadra in an utterly mala fide manner and to harm his reputation and attack his family members.”
Terming as “brazen affront to the rule of law and to Constitution”, Khaitan said Vadra’s premises were raided by ED on Friday.
“As part of this sinister agenda, officers of ED from Jaipur & Delhi raided the office at Sukhdev Vihar, New Delhi as also the residence of his associate at Noida. The ED also raided the residence of associate sister. The raids have been continuing since morning in a completely illegal fashion with no employ or lawyer being permitted to enter the premises,” he alleged in a statement.
“What is more shocking is that Government/ED did not even wait for the staff to open the office, despite being requested by our lawyer. They illegally broke open the doors and locks and entered the office. They also broke open the locks of all the cabins in the office. ED officers are inside the office since 8:00/9:00 am and have neither permitted the lawyers, nor any representative entry into the office. Same thing has happened at the residence of his associate and the residence of associate sister,” he further alleged.
The searches have been conducted without even registration of an offence or an FIR against Vadra, Khaitan said.
“We apprehend that they are going to plant false, fabricated and incriminating material in Vadra’s office as also exercise illegal coercion to create undue harassment and pressure. The very fact that premises’ were broken into by ED officials as also the fact that lawyers or any other representatives have not been permitted inside for close to 10 hours supports it. The said officials even refuse to show their ID’s or search warrants or any authority letter,” Khaitan said.
He also claimed, “This is in spite of the fact that Vadra has adhered to notice/summon by every agency for several years and supplied every document asked for and co-operated fully. The last two sets of documents running over 600 pages were furnished to ED on 26.11.2018 and 5.12.2018.”
“My client will not be cowed down by such malicious intimidation and threats for settling political scores,” the lawyer added.