A special court granted bail to Aamir Gazdar, alleged to be a close aide of Zakir Naik, founder of Islamic Research Foundation, on Wednesday. The special court constituted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act has observed that there were no allegations or evidence indicating that Gazdar laundered money after November 17, 2016. On that day, a notification by the Ministry of Home Affairs had banned IRF under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Gazdar, who has been behind bars for over five months, in his bail application had submitted that under the UAPA, it would have to be proved that he committed an offence after the ban came into place.
The Enforcement Directorate filed an FIR against Gazdar, a day after the ban on November 18, 2016, claiming that Gazdar was the director in Harmony Media Limited, which was put up as a front by Naik, and that they had colluded to launder money.
The ED countered the claim by stating that although the notification is of November 17, it relates back to the date of the inception of the association of IRF. “It is difficult to accept the submission because in the gazetted notification itself, it is mentioned that it shall have effect from the date of its publication,” the court said. It added that the sections under UAPA specifically state that events can be said to have been committed only after the notification becomes effective.
Gazdar, through his advocates Taraq Sayyed and Mubin Solkar, had submitted that he was not an office bearer or a member of IRF. Gazdar also submitted that the ED cannot rely on a separate FIR filed by the National Investigation Agency under sections of the UAPA in the case since Gazdar is not named as an accused. In its chargesheet, the ED had alleged that Gazdar was handling “unaccounted cash transactions” on behalf of Naik. The ED had also alleged that Gazdar had purchased a
BMW car from the amount transferred by Naik.
The court observed that while it appeared from the statements of Gazdar and other witnesses that he had purchased a BMW car and made investments in properties, the proceeds of crime under PMLA would mean the property had been derived or obtained directly by any criminal activity relating to scheduled offence.
“There is nothing to show that accused has acquired property after November 17,” the court said.
The special court has granted Gazdar bail on a PR bond of Rs 5 lakh and directed him to deposit his passport with the ED.