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Delhi HC seeks ED stand on plea by TMC leader Anubrata Mondal alleging “illegal” custody

A petition has prayed for Mondal’s release from “illegal custody” in Tihar Jail

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NEW DELHI, May 30 (PTI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the stand of the Enforcement Directorate on a plea by TMC leader Anubrata Mondal claiming his ongoing custody in jail in a money laundering case related to cattle smuggling in West Bengal is illegal.

His counsel contended there was no valid judicial order remanding him in judicial custody.

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A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh issued notice on the habeas corpus petition by Mondal and asked his lawyers to first show that the plea is maintainable.

The bench granted five working days to the investigating agency to file its response to the petition, and listed the case for further consideration on June 9.

ED counsel Anupam S Sharma said the judicial custody of the accused was legal and pursuant to a custody warrant signed by the trial court judge, and therefore Mondal’s habeas corpus petition was not maintainable.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Mondal, contended the habeas corpus petition was maintainable by the high court when the remand is illegal or allowed in a mechanical manner.

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A habeas corpus petition is filed for producing before a court a person who is in illegal custody or unlawful detention.

In his plea filed through lawyer Mudit Jain, Mondal, the Birbhum district chief of West Bengal’s ruling TMC considered close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, stated when he was produced before the trial court on May 8, he was not specifically remanded in judicial custody but was taken to Tihar Jail.

He said July 12 was fixed as the next date of hearing, which pushed his purported judicial custody beyond the legally mandated maximum of 15 days at a time.

“The mandate of the law is that an accused can be sent to Judicial Custody only once a specific order to the said effect is passed by the Court, in absence of which, the custody of such an Accused is illegal and without the sanction of law,” the plea has said.

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The petition has prayed for Mondal’s release from “illegal custody” in Tihar Jail.

Mondal was arrested by the CBI in the case on August 11 last year.

He was arrested by the ED on November 17 last year and was remanded in the custody of the anti-money laundering probe agency for 14 days from March 8.

According to the ED, it registered the money laundering case following an FIR by the CBI in Kolkata against Satish Kumar, the then Commandant of the BSF.

The CBI FIR alleged that Mondal, along with Kumar, other public servants and private persons, was involved in the multi-crore cattle smuggling racket.

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