Thursday, September 29, 2022

Journalist Rana Ayyub moves Delhi HC against attachment of funds by Enforcement Directorate

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On Wednesday, journalist Rana Ayyub filed an appeal with the Delhi High Court against the Enforcement Directorate’s seizure of cash.

The plea stated that the Provisional Attachment Order dated 04.02.2022 has lapsed and will cease to exist 180 days after the date of the Order, and that the proceedings before the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, are no longer maintainable because the Authority has been rendered functus officio.

The plea further asserted that proceedings before the Adjudication Authority after 180 days from the date of Provisional Attachment are totally without jurisdiction, and the Petitioner can therefore invoke the writ remedy under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

On Wednesday, Justice Yashwant Varma’s bench clubbed the file with a batch of petitions with identical prayers that are already being considered by the court. The court scheduled the hearing for November 17, 2022. Meanwhile, the Court issued an interim order in a similar group of cases.

In February, the Enforcement Directorate seized her assets worth Rs 1.77 crore in connection with suspected irregularities in the collecting of charity money for COVID relief efforts.

According to the ED, the investigations established unequivocally that the monies were raised in the name of charity in a perfectly planned and systematic way, and that the funds were not used entirely for the purpose for which they were raised.

According to the ED, the FIR was filed in response to a complaint filed by Vikas Sankrityayan of Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, on August 28, 2021.

According to the ED, the said FIR reveals that Rana Ayyub raised huge amounts in crores via the ‘Ketto’ platform (an online crowdfunding platform) in three campaigns, namely Funds for slum dwellers and farmers during April-May 2020, Relief work for Assam, Bihar, and Maharashtra during June-September 2020, and Help for Covid-19 impacted people in India during May-June 2021.

The Delhi High Court granted Journalist Rana Ayyub permission to go overseas in April, stating that there is no compelling cause to believe that the Petitioner (Rana Ayyub) will not appear before the Investigation Agency, and hence no case is made out for issuing the impugned Lookout Circular (LOC).

According to the court, the impugned LOC is thus entitled to be set aside as being devoid of grounds as well as infringing on the Petitioner’s human right to go abroad and exercise her freedom of speech and expression. The contested LOC is set aside and quashed for the grounds stated above.

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