April 2, 2021 1:28:21 am
With the Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleging that in 12-odd years, Rs 4.86 crore were deposited in Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s bank accounts but his declared income stood only at Rs 99 lakh, the Bholath MLA Thursday filed a counter-affidavit in Punjab and Haryana High Court stating that “not a single penny is unaccounted for, or in any manner related to any illegal activity much less money laundering”.
The HC will take up for hearing the matter on April 20. Khaira had moved the High Court seeking directions to quash the investigation, summoning and other proceedings by the ED against him.
Earlier, the ED in a reply to Khaira’s petition, had submitted that the rebel AAP MLA was summoned by the agency to explain the unexplained cash and property transactions found during searches at his premises.
Khaira filed the rejoinder affidavit to the ED reply through his counsel, Aenior Advocates Sartaj Singh Gill, Rahil Mahajan and Vikram Chaudhri.
“It is strange and shocking that from the period with effect year 2008 till 2021, it is being claimed that the petitioner (Khaira) has deposited an amount of Rs 84 lakh in cash in his accounts. Pertinently, the petitioner is regular income tax payee for the last several years and has explained each and every deposit in his bank account to the income tax authorities. It is for the income tax authorities to find if there is any irregularity or aberration or anomaly in the returns filed by him. By depositing cash in his bank accounts, the petitioner has at the most, made himself liable to pay income tax. It is not a case, where any cash amount has been recovered from him. The other accusations as relating to some evidences of some cash transactions, is again flimsy and absolutely baseless,” read the affidavit filed by Khaira.
It further contends that the allegations about his son-in-law and daughter and their company — Valley Telegence Private Limited — transferring Rs 64,14,600 into the bank accounts of Khaira’s family are without any substance as the same are either personal loans to the MLA in order to pay off interests on agricultural limits/loans or monthly retainer to his son, or seed/capital money into Stone Maison, an entrepreneurial partnership firm set up for construction activity. “Not a single penny is unaccounted for, or in any manner related to any illegal activity, much less money laundering,” reads the rejoinder.
Regarding the accusations of ED that Gurdev Singh, a convict in an NDPS case, being in touch with Khaira while absconding from February 27, 2015 to March 8, 2015, it was submitted that “it is yet another fabricated story to involve the petitioner… The only evidence based on police information that Gurdev Singh made some calls to the petitioner during the period does not show that he was in any manner involved in the drug trafficking case. Since Gurdev Singh belonged to constituency from where from the petitioner is an elected MLA, he and his sister telephonically approached him for help and in turn he made calls to the then IG Bathinda and DIG Ferozepur Range only to request that since the accused belonged to the constituency of the petitioner, he should not be falsely implicated in any case or FIR.”
The rejoinder stated that the “whole edifice or foundation for commencement of the investigation” under PMLA ceases to exist once the Supreme Court has stayed the entire proceedings against him. The ED action, it said, is a circuitous overreach of the said order. “If the orders of the apex court of the country are allowed to be violated with impunity (as has been done in the instant case), it would spell a death knell to the fundamental rights of the citizens,” it said.
The criminal proceedings in the scheduled offence, the rejoinder said, have commenced from October 31, 2017, when Khaira was summoned under Section 319 CrPC.and the said proceedings were initially stayed by HC and thereafter stayed on December 1, 2017 by the Supreme Court. “It is beyond comprehension and is shocking that the ED has chosen to register a case on January 21, 2021 especially when the petitioner has been vocally criticizing the central government in enacting the anti-farmer laws,” it said.
Khaira said that he cannot wait for the axe to fall, so as to approach the HC for the redressal of his grievances.
Meanwhile, speaking to Indian Express, Khaira said, “I have been targeted under a well planned political vendetta drive merely because I am a strong votary of the farmers’ agitation and opposed tooth and nail the erroneous anti-people policies of the BJP government. The ED has fabricated and cooked up a maliciously false story as a part of its vilification campaign against me aimed at my character assassination and also to adversely influence the judiciary”.
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