PDP leader and former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's plea challenging the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act is set to appear in court next month after the Delhi High Court on Wednesday announced August 13 as the date for the hearing.
The decision was announced by an HC bench led by Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Sing. The listing for August 13 was announced after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested that the plea be heard on another day as he was busy with a part-heard matter.
Mufti, who has been summoned by the ED is being represented by senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, who submitted that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a compilation of judgements relied upon by them but the agency is yet to file a short note of submission on the facts of a money laundering case, as per the court's earlier direction.
She sought that the court asks the ED to file the submissions.
To this, the bench said the Solicitor General was present in the hearing and he was well aware of the court order and he will do the needful, to which Mehta nodded and stated it will be filed.
During the hearing, the court asked Mufti's counsel as to what happened on March 22, when she was summoned by the ED to appear before it.
Her counsel said Mufti had appeared before the ED on that day since there was no interim protection granted to her by the court.
Mufti, in her plea filed in March, has also challenged the issuance of summons to her by the ED in a money laundering case. She has sought to stay the summons, however, the court had refused to grant the relief at this stage.
Why has Mufti been summoned by the ED?
The ED summons issued a summons to Muftin about a money laundering case. The 61-year-old leader, 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.
Initially, the ED and summoned Mufti for March 15 but it did not insist on her personal appearance. Thereafter, she was summoned for March 22.
What is Section 50 of PLMA?
Mufti has also sought to declare section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act as void and inoperative, being unfairly discriminatory, bereft of safeguards, and violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
Section 50 of the Act empowers the authority, that is, officers of ED, to summon any person to give evidence or produce records. All persons summoned are bound to answer the questions and produce the documents as required by the ED officers, failing which they can be penalized under the Act.
She has also sought an interim stay on the summons until the question of law concerning the constitutionality of Section 50 of the Act is decided.
What is Mufti's plea about?
"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. 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,” the plea said.
The plea claimed that ever since Mufti was released from the preventive detention following the formal abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, 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 and a roving inquiry about her personal, political and financial affairs was made, in the course of which their personal devices have been seized.
Earlier, Mehta had said there was no need to issue a formal notice to them as they were already appearing before the court and said they would file a short note on the question of law. Mufti, in her petition, said she has received a summons from the ED under the provisions of the PMLA, purporting to call for 'evidence' on pain of punishment, whereas she is, to all intents and purposes, a subject of investigation.
(With inputs from PTI)