A court here on Thursday extended till August 9 the Enforcement Directorate's custody of Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah in a money laundering case.
Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma allowed the ED to quiz Shah for six more days after he was presented in the court on the expiry of his one-day custody.
He was arrested from Srinagar on July 25 on charges of money laundering in a case dating back to 2005.
At one point during the hearing, Public Prosecutor Rajeev Awasthi said if Shah believed in the Indian Constitution, can he (Shah) say 'Bharat Mata ki jai'.
The remark came after a defence counsel said Shah had been behind bars for many years and deprived of his constitution rights.
At this point, the court snubbed the prosecutor for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for asking Kashmiri Shah to chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai' to prove his patriotism, saying it was not a television studio.
Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma chided the lawyer for his remark and later allowed the ED's plea for extension of sixty-four-year-old Shah's custodial interrogation.
The ED's counsel Rajeev Awasthi alleged that Shah was "ruining" the country by using money to fund terror and breached the line by daring the separatist leader to chant 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' to prove his patriotism.
However, an anguished judge stopped him, warning that the courtroom was not a "television studio."
"Argue on the merits of the case," said the judge.
Shah's counsel claimed the case was politically motivated. The ED opposed this on the ground that the Kashmiri leader's action was ruining the country.
The court asked the rival counsels to maintain decorum and not to turn it into a TV studio.
Seeking extension of Shah's custody, Public Prosecutors Awasthi and Navin Kumar Matta told the court that the international ramifications of the case were to be unearthed.
Shah's custody is required to examine and analyse the bank details, the money trail and 10,000 emails.
The ED said it also had to ascertain the source of hawala transfers and further distribution of funds.
The agency said a huge amount of money has been deposited in cash and by cheque in the account of Hotel Baisaran, Pahalgam, in Jammu and Kashmir and Shah has 25 per cent partnership in the hotel with his elder brother.
The money has been used for illegal activities, the ED told the court.
Defence counsel MS Khan opposed the for Shah's custody and denied the charges.
Shah's arrest relates to an August 2005 case when the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested a hawala dealer, Muhammad Aslam Wani.
Wani had allegedly confessed that he gave hawala money of Rs 2.25 crore to Shah.
In the 2005 case, the court had acquitted Wani of charges of criminal conspiracy and other offences but convicted him under the Arms Act, defence counsel Khan told the court.
Khan said there was no material left to connect Shah to the case as it was not proved that the seized money was meant for him.
The ED, however, said the accused had to be confronted with his international contacts, including from Pakistan.