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Monday, April 12, 2021

Money laundering case: HC refuses to stay summons issued to Mehbooba Mufti by ED

Mehbooba has been asked by the ED to appear before it in Delhi on March 22.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 19, 2021 1:02:04 pm
Mehbooba MuftiMehbooba Mufti (Express photo: Anil Sharma/File)

The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate to former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and issued a notice to the agency and Centre in her petition challenging the summons and Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

While asking Mufti and government counsels to file their legal notes in the case, the division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh adjourned the hearing of the case to April 16. Mehbooba has been asked by the ED to appear before it in Delhi on March 22.

On March 10, the ED had told the division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani that it will not insist Mufti’s appearance before it on March 15 and will issue fresh summons for a date subsequent to March 19, the date of today’s hearing.

Mufti, in her challenge against the summons issued to her by the central agency in an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), has said that she apprehends she may be made an accused by the ED. The Peoples Democratic Party leader in the petition also alleged that the state has resorted to “a series of hostile acts” against her acquaintances and family friends ever since her release from preventive detention last year.

She also challenged Section 50 of the Prevention of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in the petition, contending that the provision is violative of the protection against self-incrimination and that the law needs to be revisited in light of a verdict passed by the Supreme Court last year.

“She has not been informed if she is being summoned as an accused or as a witness. She has also not been informed of what she is being summoned in connection with, and the scheduled offence under the PMLA which gave rise to the proceedings in respect of which Impugned Summons has been issued to her,” Mufti has said through her counsel Prasanna S in the petition.

In the application seeking copies of documents related to the case in which she has been summoned, Mufti told the court she has “reasons to believe” that she is being arraigned as an accused and that the ED is being “weaponized for political positions”.

“While this is not the ground of challenge in this petition, this gives rise to the suspicion in her mind that she may be summoned as an Accused, in which case she reserves her right to be silent and to not be bound to answer questions. Allowing her to face questions without clarity and quietus on the powers and the nature of proceedings under Section 50 are grossly unfair and causes irreparable harm to her,” reads the interim application filed by her.

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