Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday in a money laundering case, with his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) calling it a political move ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls.
He was taken into custody under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after a few hours of questioning, ED officials said. They alleged he was "evasive" in his replies.
The minister is expected to be produced before a designated court on Tuesday. The arrest has been made by the federal agency in connection with alleged hawala dealings.
Jain was taken into custody under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after a few hours of questioning on Monday, Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials said.
Delhi minister Satyendar Jain has been arrested by the ED in an eight-year-old "fake" case as he is the AAP's in-charge for the Himachal Pradesh polls and the BJP is afraid of losing the electoral contest, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday.
"A fake case has been going on against Satyendar Jain for eight years. He has been called by the ED several times so far. The ED had stopped calling him for some time because it did not find anything against him. Now, it has again started calling him because he is the (AAP) in-charge of the Himachal Pradesh polls," Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi.
"The BJP is afraid of losing the election and hence, he was arrested to prevent him from going to Himachal. He will be released soon as he has been arrested in a fake case," the Delhi deputy chief minister added.
Jain (57) is the minister for health, industries, power, home, urban development and water in the Arvind Kejriwal-led government.
Later, at a press conference, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh said Jain was earlier summoned by the ED seven times but was never arrested. He has been arrested now to "defame" the AAP ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, Singh alleged.
The BJP government has alleged that Jain was involved in "hawala" work through certain companies between 2015 and 2017.
Singh claimed that the people who were the owners of these companies during 2015-2017 have confessed to their crimes in a court and clearly submitted that all the money belongs to them, and the court has also accepted this point.
"The ED summoned Satyendar Jain seven times in 2018 but could not find anything against him.
The ED took no action from 2019 till now and the case appeared to be closed. Now the case has been reopened before the Himachal election. This is nothing but yet another instance of the BJP manhandling the state machinery for political gains," he said.
The Rajya Sabha member said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) "has sent its hounds after the AAP once again".
"The truth, however, is that Satyendar Jain had resigned from all these companies in March 2013 and had nothing to do with these companies during 2015-2017," Singh claimed.
Echoing Sisodia's views, he said the moment the AAP gave Jain the charge of the polls in Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP is in power, it caused the leaders of the saffron party to grow restless out of the fear of a crushing defeat at the hands of the Kejriwal-led party.
"This is the reason that Jain has been baselessly arrested in a false case. This is blatant harassment, which has yet again exposed the BJP's true and dark reality in front of the public," Singh said.
Stating that the AAP stands behind Jain and reinforces its trust in the judicial system, he said, "We are confident that he will come out scot-free from the courts because this case is completely fake and baseless. The BJP can prey upon the soldiers of the AAP for our whole lifetime, but I guarantee that we are the warriors of truth and honesty and no matter what kind of harassment we are subjected to, we will stand firm and fight back.
"The Aam Aadmi Party will go into the Himachal Pradesh polls with unflinching spirit and crush the BJP like no one ever has. This is nothing more than a political ploy that the BJP has enforced as it counts its final days in Himachal," Singh said.
The ED had last month said assets worth Rs 4.81 crore of Jain's family and companies "beneficially owned and controlled" by him were provisionally attached as part of a money-laundering probe against the Delhi minister.
In a statement issued then, the ED had said it issued a provisional order under the PMLA to "attach immovable properties worth Rs 4.81 crore belonging to Akinchan Developers Pvt. Ltd.; Indo Metal Impex Pvt Ltd; Paryas Infosolutions Pvt. Ltd.; Manglayatan Projects Pvt. Ltd.; J.J. Ideal Estate Pvt. Ltd.; Swati Jain, wife of Vaibhav Jain; Sushila Jain, wife of Ajit Prasad Jain; and Indu Jain, wife of Sunil Jain."
The probe found that "during the period 2015-16, when Satyendar Kumar Jain was a public servant, the companies beneficially owned and controlled by him received accommodation entries to the tune of Rs 4.81 crore from shell (paper) companies against cash transferred to Kolkata-based entry operators through the hawala route."
"These amounts were utilised for direct purchase of land or for repayment of loan taken for the purchase of agricultural land in and around Delhi," the ED said.
The persons named in the attachment order are associates and family members of Jain, the officials said.
The money laundering case against the Delhi minister stems from an August 2017 FIR filed by the CBI against him and others on charges of alleged possession of disproportionate assets (DA).
A charge sheet was filed by the CBI in December 2018 stating that the alleged DA was to the tune of Rs 1.47 crore, about 217 per cent more than his known sources of income, during 2015-17.
The Income Tax Department had also probed these transactions and issued an order attaching "benami assets" allegedly linked to Jain.
With input from PTI