The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) Wednesday informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that Dera Sacha Sauda acquired 293 acres of agricultural land from hundreds of farmers by way of donations and said the matter needed to be probed under the law for prohibition of benami transactions.
“The power of attorneys in respect of these lands were executed by the farmers to three key personnel of Dera Sacha Sauda. And the aforesaid three persons being power of attorney holders, later gifted these lands to Dera by way of gift deeds. This revealed existence of benami transactions,” the ED said in a report before a full bench of the High Court.
The court was informed that the benami prohibition units of Income-Tax Department are the specialised agencies to investigate benami transactions and the matter needed to be handed over to them for an extensive investigation. A confidential note on the modus operandi used by Dera Sacha Sauda for transfer of the land was also submitted before the court.
The full bench of Justices Surya Kant, Augustine George Masih and Avneesh Jhingan, in September last year, had directed the ED and Income Tax department to look into the bank accounts and assets of Dera and its head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, his family members and close aides for a probe into the allegations of money laundering.
In the status report, the ED also informed the full bench that the scrutiny of Dera’s financial system was being carried out to ascertain the cases of money laundering and documents submitted by the Dera chairperson Vipasana were being analysed.
The full bench was also informed that the ED was looking into the overseas properties of Dera Sacha Sauda. Though the Dera, in its response before the ED, claimed that Gurmeet Ram Rahim was only honorary head of the overseas properties and the actual ownership lay with foreign citizens, the agency informed the court that names of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, his daughter Charanpreet Kaur and one Gulabu Mal were mentioned in the documents pertaining to the overseas properties.
“A summon to Miss Charanpreet has been issued to investigate further in this matter. The department is considering the option of sending reference to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units for ascertaining the ownership of overseas Dera’s properties and means of finances for procurement of same,” the report reads.
Meanwhile, the Income Tax department also informed the High Court that 183 cases connected to Dera had been reopened and assessing officers are making inquiries into remaining cases.b