NEW DELHI: A woman, close aide of corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and a suspect in a money laundering case against him, was on Thursday granted protection from arrest till February 21.
Yasmin Kapoor moved the court seeking anticipatory bail, claiming that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had threatened her to take names and also convince Talwar to give names of government officials/political functionaries, failing which she would be arrested and face trouble.
She further submitted that the probe agency was after her as she had businesses with him in the past.
Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann granted the relief to Kapoor after her advocate told the court that she was ready to cooperate in the investigation.
Talwar is currently in the ED custody, which has alleged that he acted as middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines causing loss to national carrier Air India.
The application claimed that ED had conducted a search at her Delhi residence and office on February 1 during which she was allegedly threatened by the probe agency that her liberty would be curtailed if she did not cooperate with them.
"A number of officers were repeatedly telling Kapoor that she should take names and also convince Talwar to give names of government officials/political functionaries, failing which she would be arrested and she would face trouble in her life," the application claimed.
It said this was despite Kapoor cooperating with the investigating authorities during the raid and answering all the questions put to her.
"However, the investigating authorities were relentless in their onslaught.
They were stating again and again that since Kapoor has had past business connections with Talwar, she should convince him to cooperate with the investigating authorities and give answers to their suitability, otherwise face the consequences.
"During raid proceedings, Kapoor was repeatedly threatened by the investigating authorities who stated that her liberty would be curtailed if she did not cooperated with them," the application said.
It said that ED had conducted a search at the residence of Kapoor and office premises in Delhi whereupon they had seized documents, mobile phones, laptops, computers, hard disks.
Search was conducted at the residence from 10 am to 10:30 pm during which she was also summoned at the ED offices on February 4 which was "illegal" as the Supreme Court is seized of the matter pertaining to a fundamental legal proposition whether a woman can be issued a summon to appear in person before the ED in their offices, the application claimed.
Talwar was deported from the UAE last week in connection with a money laundering case.
ED had earlier said that it needed to interrogate Talwar to get the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia.
The agency had claimed entities directly or indirectly controlled by the accused received exorbitant amounts from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia and submitted a chart of total USD 60.54 million received by firms directly or indirectly owned by Talwar between April 23, 2008, to February 6, 2009.
His role in some aviation deals during the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) regime at the Centre is under the scanner as well.
Talwar was booked by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department charged him with tax evasion.