A CBI court on Thursday pulled up the Enforcement Directorate for seeking the custody of businessman Paras Mal Lodha without formally arresting him in the case relating to the alleged conversion of demonetised notes for mining baron J Sekhar Reddy of Chennai, and remanded him in judicial custody till January 19. After Lodha was produced before the court, judge K Venkatasamy asked the ED counsel how it could grant custody of Lodha, since neither the CBI nor the ED officials of Chennai had arrested him in connection with this (Reddy) case. “Without a formal arrest, how could the ED and CBI seek police custody?” the judge asked.
Following this, the ED and CBI filed an arrest memo before the court.
In response, Lodha’s counsel said that as per the relevant rules, this Court has no jurisdiction to try the case.
The judge also underscored the discrepancies of ED and CBI and wondered if the case was within its ambit.
Questioning the jurisdiction of the principal special court for transferring the cases pertaining to Sekar Reddy and his associates to this court, the judge said that only the high court had the requisite power to transfer the cases.
However, counsel for ED and CBI asserted that the special CBI court had enormous power and the case was well within its jurisdiction. Highlighting the importance of the case, the judge remanded Lodha in judicial custody till January 19.
Meanwhile, Lodha submitted that the CBI and ED had filed a false case against him and “he had met Reddy only twice in his life”.
He also submitted that he was suffering from oral cancer and the judicial custody could aggravate his ill health.
Recording the submission, the judge asked the officials to provide him medical care while in judicial custody.
In the case pertaining to the seizure of Rs 34 crore in new currency notes, Lodha was cited as the sixth accused after Sekhar Reddy, V Srinivasalu, Dindigul Rathinam, Muthupettai Ramachandran and auditor Prem Kumar.
The ED had on Tuesday filed a petition seeking a prisoner transit warrant enabling the Enforcement Directorate to bring Lodha (62), who was arrested in Mumbai last month and lodged in Delhi later, and produce him here.
Lodha was arrested in connection with the recovery of large amount in new currency notes from a company belonging to Advocate Rohit Tandon of T and T law firm (in Delhi) and Shekhar Reddy.
The police custody petition filed by ED and CBI for Lodha will come up for hearing on Friday.