New Delhi, Apr 16: Facing ED summons for his alleged links with Pune stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, Puducherry Lt Governor Iqbal Singh has written to the Home Minister admitting that he had recommended expeditious issue of passport to him but claimed he did not know him.
Singh, in a letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram here, who he met yesterday, said he had made the recommendation for Khan at the behest of a Bihar Congress leader.
The Enforcement Directorate will also quiz Vijay Shankar Pandey, who was removed today as UP Principal Secretary (Information), following questioning of the Bihar politician Amalendu Pandey in Mumbai.
The two will be questioned in connection with the passport procured by Khan and some investments done by him abroad.
In his letter, Singh said that on April 4, 1997 Amalendu Pandey approached him for issuance of passport from Patna for someone on compassionate grounds.
The reason given was the brother of the person seeking passport was seriously ill abroad and the presence of the applicant for looking after him was extremely essential.
“In view of the plea, explained by Amalendu Pandey, a known Congress leader, I referred the case to the then Minister of External Affairs I K Gujral on April 4, 1997...
“It is pertinent to mention here that I did not know the said applicant H Khan at all neither did I ever meet him. I only issued the letter for expeditious issue of his passport, believing the assertions of a known Congress leader to the effect that his brother was not well on purely humanitarian and compassionate grounds,” Singh said in his letter.
Singh said he did not verify the application of Khan for issuance of Passport which contains a specific clause that the officer/MP verifying knows the person personally.
“As I did not know him hence I did not verify the application,” he said.
The ED is also likely to quiz Khan's aide Kashinath Tapuria, who is in the agency's custody, after similar leads emerged in the case following the questioning of the politician.
Amlendu Pandey was grilled on April 14 by the ED for allegedly procuring passport from Patna for Ali by forging documents.
The ED had mentioned in its remand application that it was necessary to question him regarding transactions of Khan in Singapore and also to find out the reasons for obtaining the second passport from Patna.
Khan, Pandey and Tapuria had allegedly travelled to Singapore in 1997 to open an account in the United Bank of Switzerland.
Khan is accused of massive money-laundering, tax evasion and stashing away huge amounts in foreign banks.
According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Khan and Tapuriahs owe the government about Rs 75,000 crore in taxes.
While talking about Tapuriahs, Singh said, the Kolkata based businessman was intoduced to him by Amlendu Pandey as a “prominent and august personality belonging to the Birla family” and also informed that Mahatama Gandhi used to stay at their residence whenever he visited the eastern metrolpolis of the country.
Singh said Pandey also informed him that Tapuriah's wife Chandrika has to accompany her husband to a foreign destination for his treatment and she needed her passport to be renewed.
“Chandrika Tapuriah also spoke to me and requested me to help her in the renewal of her passport on an urgent basis due to a medical emergency. Again on compassionate grounds I wrote a letter to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs for renewal of her passport.
“.....after that I have absolutely no link with Tapuriah or his family members and no one has ever contacted me on his behalf,” the letter said.
Singh said he has no link with Hassan Ali neither did he know his full name which he has now learnt from newspaper reports.
“Neither have I ever met him or spoken to him and that letter of April 4, 1997 was an isolated incident. Neither before nor after that have I ever written anything for him,” Singh said.
The Puduchhery Lieutenant Governor also denied that a PSO had collected the passport of Khan from Patna passport office on his directions.
“I distinctly remember that I did not send anyone to collect the passport of Khan from Patna or for that matter of anyone else. As far as I remember there was no constable by the name of Ashok Kumar as PSO with me during 1997 or at any time before or after that,” he said. PTI