The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which handles high-profile financial fraud cases involving thousands of crores, is grappling with basic infrastructure such as a lock-up to house its accused in custody.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), the premier investigating agency, instead, has had to rely on local police to house its accused such as Christian Michel and Rajeev Saxena of the AgustaWestland scam.
In contrast, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency(NIA) have their own air-conditioned lock-ups in their respective buildings located in New Delhi’s CGO Complex.
According to a source in the ED, Michel, who was extradited from the UAE earlier this year, was briefly questioned and kept at the Tughlaq Road police station in New Delhi. After his lawyers raised an objection, he was shifted to the Old Delhi ED office.
This was also confirmed by a police source.
“Michel stayed at the Tughlaq Road police station for a brief while but was then shifted soon after,” the police source said. “The lock-ups have been in use by the agency for a while now. They contact the local police when they need a cell to keep the accused,” the source added.
“There is no special security or arrangements that are made for them. They stay here like any other accused irrespective of the nature of the case.”
Similarly, Saxena, who was also extradited from the UAE, was kept in the Kamla Nagar police station in Central Delhi while in ED custody, a source in the agency told ThePrint.
Michel is now in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail as he is in judicial custody while Saxena is out on bail.
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‘A lack of infrastructure’
An officer in the ED said the department relies on local police due to a “lack of infrastructure” to house the accused in its custody.
“There is a lack of space and so there are no lock-ups inside the current ED headquarters at Lok Nayak Bhawan. We have tied up with the Delhi Police and whenever we need a lockup, it is provided by the local police,” the officer said.
“It is permissible under law. You can take any place and turn it into an interrogation room,” the officer added. “When it comes to keeping the accused in custody, however, we ensure proper arrangements are made. Sometimes we also take them to our other offices, one of them in Old Delhi.”
The ED’s counsel, N.K. Matta also confirmed this. “The interrogation is usually carried out in the ED office but the accused are kept in lock-ups arranged by the local police since the agency does not have its own lock-ups,” Matta said.
The ED is headquartered at the Lok Nayak Bhawan near Khan Market in New Delhi. It has other smaller offices scattered across the city.
Due to a lack of space at its head office, the ED interrogates suspects such as Robert Vadra, who is being probed by the agency for allegedly illegally owning properties in London, at its Jamnagar House office in New Delhi.
“There is no space in the Lok Nayak Bhawan office that is situated on the sixth floor, so we call them at the annexe office in Jamnagar house,” an officer said.