CBI ordered to restore passport to oil-for-food scam accused


New Delhi : The Delhi High court has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to release the passport of Aditya Khanna, an accused in the oil-for-food scam in Iraq.

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Justice Gita Mittal, while ordering release of the passport last week, said: “The CBI has no authority to seize the passport in view of the principles laid down by the apex court.”

The court directed the agency to release Khanna’s passport within three weeks.

The passport was in the custody of the CBI since December 2006 when it was handed over to it by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The court also pulled up the CBI for not returning the passport to Khanna for the last two years when there was no case pending against him.

“Even a court cannot impound a passport. Though the Criminal Procedure Code states that a court may impound any document or thing produced before it, in our opinion this provision enables it to impound any document or thing other than a passport,” judge said in her order.

The ED was inquiring into the benefits derived by Indians in the scam brought out by the Volcker Committee report of the United Nations.

It is alleged that the suspects had earned a handsome commission by selling vouchers for petroleum products given by the then Iraqi president Saddam Hussain under the UN’s oil-for-food programme between 1996 and 2003.