Supreme Court to hear journalist Rana Ayyub’s plea in money laundering case on January 25

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Rana Ayyub

By Muslim Mirror

The petition of journalist Rana Ayyub challenging the summons issued to her by a special PMLA court in Ghaziabad in connection with a money laundering case filed by the ED will be heard by the Supreme Court on January 25, according to a statement released on Monday.

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Senior lawyer Vrinda Karat brought up the matter before a bench consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justices V Ramasubramanian, and J B Pardiwala.

When Karat informed the court that the bench that was supposed to hear the case on Monday was unavailable, the bench agreed to post the case for hearing at 2 p.m. today.

“We will keep this day after tomorrow before an appropriate bench. Today will be difficult,” the bench said.

On January 17, a bench presided over by CJI Chandrachud decided to consider listing the plea of Ayyub for an urgent hearing after carefully considering the arguments made by the lawyer who represented her, Vrinda Grover.

Grover had stated that Ayyub had received a summons from the special court in Ghaziabad for January 27, so the matter needed to be listed urgently.

Ayyub has asked for the proceedings started by the Enforcement Directorate in Ghaziabad to be dismissed in her writ petition on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction because the alleged money laundering offence took place in Mumbai.

The special PMLA court in Ghaziabad had summoned Ayyub on November 29 of last year after taking cognizance of the prosecution complaint submitted by the Enforcement Directorate.

Sanjeet Kumar Sahu, Assistant Director of ED, Delhi, filed the ED chargesheet for money laundering under Section 45 read with Section 44 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

“I have perused the above mentioned prosecution complaint and have also gone through the prosecution papers as well as documents including statements.

“From the perusal of the entire record there is sufficient evidence as to a prima facie case for taking cognizance against Ms Rana Ayyub with regard to commission of offence,” the special court judge said.

According to the special court, Ayyub’s crime involved raising a sizable sum of money in the bank accounts of her sister and father before transferring it into her own bank account, which she then used for purposes other than those for which it was intended. This was done through three campaigns on the online crowdfunding platform “Ketto,” according to the special court.

The ED filed a charge sheet against Ayyub on October 12 of last year, accusing her of defrauding the public and using the Rs 2.69 crore she received in charity to create personal assets in addition to breaking the law on foreign contributions.

“Rana Ayyub launched three fundraiser charity campaigns on the ‘Ketto platform’ starting from April 2020 and collected funds totalling Rs 2,69,44,680,” the ED had said in a statement.

The campaigns, according to the statement, were created to help Ayyub and her team aid those in India affected by COVID-19 as well as slum dwellers, farmers, and those in Assam, Bihar, and Maharashtra.

“Ayyub utilised these funds to create a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh for herself and also transferred Rs 50 lakh to a new bank account. Investigations found that only about Rs 29 lakh was used for relief work,” the ED had claimed.

“In order to claim more expenses towards relief work, fake bills were submitted by Ayyub and subsequently, bank balances in the accounts of Ayyub amounting to Rs 1,77,27,704 (including FD of Rs 50 Lakh) were attached under the PMLA vide a provisional attachment order dated February 4, 2022,” it had said.

On the basis of a FIR filed against Ayyub on September 7, 2021 by the Indirapuram Police Station in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, under the IPC, the Information Technology Amendment Act of 2008, and the Black Money Act, the ED launched a money laundering investigation.

Ayyub was accused of receiving foreign contributions without filing an FCRA report, according to the complaint.

The Delhi High Court had stopped the ED from continuing with the provisional attachment of funds in connection with the investigation against her on August 17 of last year.

The Delhi High Court granted Ayyub permission to leave the country on April 4 of last year and questioned the ED regarding a Look Out Circular (LOC) that had been issued against her prohibiting her from leaving the country.

In March, the ED prevented Ayyub from boarding a flight to London from the Mumbai airport because she was the subject of a “Look out Circular” that had been issued.

(with PTI inputs)

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