Non-bailable warrant issued against preacher Zakir Naik by Mumbai court

A special PMLA court on Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik as even after issuing four summons since January, he has not appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for further investigation into the money laundering case he has been charged with. The court has admitted the application and will be hearing the arguments next week.

ED's counsel, Hiten Venegaonkar, objected to the defence lawyer's application saying that the accused does not want to appear before the agency or the court. "Naik had been given ample opportunities to cooperate with the agency".

Naik had responded to the ED summons and had said he was willing to give a statement via any electronic media facility as he faces an "extremely hostile environment and atmosphere in India, which makes a fair probe against him impossible". "Dummy companies were used to camouflage the diversion of funds received by Naik though his illegal activities and provocative speeches", the sources said. Out of the six companies he floated, Dr. Naik had appointed his confidante Aamir Gazdar as a director of one such company. The ED alleged that Gazdar would file IT returns in his wife and children's names. The NBW follows the "rejectionist posture" of Naik, who has not shown willingness to co-operate with the ED.

The agency has recorded the statements of Naik's siblings - his sister Nailah Noorani and brother Mohammad Abdul Karim Naik.

Once the agency gets a non-bailable arrest warrant against Naik, it would seek Letters Rogatory or letters of request from the same court for United Kingdom and UAE.

The ED may now seek Letters Rogatory (letters of request) from a court in Saudi Arabia for judicial assistance in getting Naik back home for interrogation.

Venegaoankar had earlier said that Naik laid down conditions for appearance and tried to dictate terms to the agency. Sources said Naik's movable and immovable properties of around Rs 100 crore is under attachment process.

Vanessa Coleman