HC directive to ED on Mehbooba

NEW DELHI, Mar 10:
The Delhi High Court today asked the Enforcement Directorate not to press for former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s personal appearance in a money laundering case till the court hears her petition on March 18, her daughter said.
The matter came up for hearing before a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani. The matter was posted for March 18 with a direction to the ED not to press for her personal appearance on March 15.
The PDP leader had challenged the validity of the summons issued by the ED for appearing before it on March 15 without specifying the case she was being investigated in. She asked the court to quash the summons, her daughter Iltija Mufti said.
The summons was issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act but the case under which she was asked to appear was missing from the notice.
In her petition before the High Court, Mehbooba said she had not been informed if she is being summoned as an accused or as a witness.
“The petitioner is not the subject of investigation, nor is she an accused, in any of the scheduled offences to the best of her knowledge,” it said.
She alleged in her petition that since her release from preventive detention following the abrogation of Article 370, “there have been a series of hostile acts by the State, against her, acquaintances and old family friends, who have all been summoned by the ED…”
“The petitioner also wrote a letter to the Enforcement Directorate, inter alia, pointing to the roving nature of the inquiry undertaken in the case thus far and that in the event that she is questioned, she will insist on the legitimacy of the process,” the petition stated.
Mehbooba, 60, who was released last year after more than a year in detention following the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, was served notice to appear at the ED headquarters in the national capital.
The former Chief Minister also challenged the validity of Section 50 of PMLA under which she had been summoned and said the Section was in violation of Article 14 (equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India) and Article 21 (No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law).
Under Section 50 of PMLA, “The Director, Additional Director, Joint Director, Deputy Director or Assistant Director shall have power to summon any person whose attendance he considers necessary whether to give evidence or to produce any records during the course of any investigation or proceeding under this Act.”
The persons summoned shall be bound to attend in person or through authorised agents, as such officer may direct, and shall be bound to state the truth upon any subject respecting which they are examined or make statements, and produce such documents as may be required.
The proceedings under this Section are “deemed to be a judicial proceeding”. Mehbooba said it was in violation of Section 25 in the Indian Evidence Act under which any statement given in front of a police officer was not valid in the court of law until substantiated with evidence. (PTI)