Robert Vadra withdraws plea for direction to ED against coercive action

NEW DELHI, July 18:
Businessman Robert Vadra Thursday withdrew his plea, filed in the Delhi High Court, for direction to the Enforcement Directorate not to take any coercive action against him in a money laundering case.
A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal dismissed the application as Vadra withdrew it saying he has already been granted anticipatory bail by a trial court.
The application was filed in a pending petition in which Vadra sought quashing of the case on the ground that multiple investigations were held in “abuse of statutory power of investigation and therefore second or successive FIRs filed in connection with the same or connected cognisable offence alleged to have been committed in the course of the same transaction pursuant to the first FIR is liable to be quashed”.
The court was informed by the Central Government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, representing the ED, that they had filed their response on the issue of maintainability of Vadra’s petition.
The court granted time to Vadra to file his rejoinder to ED’s response and listed the matter for further hearing on August 21.
Besides Vadra, his close aide Manoj Arora has also sought quashing of the money laundering case.
Vadra is facing allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square, worth 1.9 million pounds. The case is being probed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Arora was an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP and a co-accused in the case.
The High Court had earlier granted more time to the ED to file its response in the form of an affidavit regarding the maintainability of two separate but similar petitions by Vadra and Arora.
The ED had opposed Vadra’s plea, saying it was not maintainable as he “wilfully suppressed” material facts from the court.
It had contended that the plea of Vadra was an abuse of process of law. When he feared that “law will catch him, he challenged the PMLA provisions”, it had added.
Vadra has sought in his plea that various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, be declared unconstitutional.
He has sought that Sections 3 (offence of money laundering), 17 (search and seizure), 19 (power to arrest), 24 (burden of proof), 44 (offences triable by special courts) and 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence, etc) of the PMLA be declared ultra vires or unconstitutional.
He has contended that since these provisions constitute the main parts of the Act, the entire legislation was liable to be struck down on the grounds of being unconstitutional.
ED’s counsel had earlier argued that in the petition Vadra has not made any reference to the investigation going on here which was under the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court and he has mainly referred to the probe in Rajasthan land case which was not the subject matter of this FIR.
Vadra had said in his petition that while it is permissible for the investigating agencies to conduct further probe, the sweeping investigation power does not warrant subjecting a citizen each time to a fresh investigation in respect of the same incident giving rise to one or more cognisable offences.
The petition had said that despite the investigation in the land deals in Rajasthan and Haryana by various probe agencies, nothing was found against Vadra and his firms.
“However, in order to harass and humiliate the petitioner, another ECIR (enforcement case information report) was registered into the same deals. It was in this wake of the matter that Rajasthan High Court directed that no coercive steps will be taken against the petitioner (Vadra),” it had said.
It had said, “another ECIR was registered with regard to the same assets in India and abroad which were subject matter of the FIRs and earlier ECIR registered by the Respondent (ED) at Jaipur. The investigation into the subject ECIR also was to be done on the basis of same documents which had already been supplied.” (PTI)