Sunday, May 26, 2024

ED summons: Rs 70 lakh cash in account; Mehbooba Mufti fumes

On Friday (August 6), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued summons to Gulshan Nazir, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s mother. She was asked to present herself before ED officials for questioning on August 18 in a case related to money laundering.   

The Mehbooba Mufit-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slammed the ED over the development, trying to link ED summons and the party’s stance on August 5, 2019, constitutional changes. It said this was “no coincidence that a summons is served every time the party registers a protest against the Centre’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir’’. The party did not say anything about the source of Rs70 lakh deposited in her account (all in cash) found by the ED which had triggered the summons some months ago.

Already, till date, Mehbooba’s mother has chosen to ignore the ED summons more than once. Incidentally, she had been asked to appear before the officials on July 14 also. Mehbooba and her supporters had chosen to take swipes at the Centre, but have done little to clear the air about the funds the trail of which the ED purportedly wants to unravel.

It bears mention here that on Thursday, Mufti had led a team of protesters from her party to mark the second anniversary of abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state. The PDP has said that it wants the ED to provide the details of the case, including about the FIR and the accused “just so we can prepare legally and know what she (Mehbooba’s mother) is going to be asked about.”

In an interesting development, the party has requested the ED that she should be allowed “human assistance as she was not well versed with English, Hindi and Urdu languages’’. If the ED supplies the details of the case, it would help her in being prepared for the questioning, the party said. According to ED, the criminal case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is linked to the recovery of at least two diaries by the ED after raids on an alleged associate of Mufti.

The diaries contain the details of some purported payments made from the chief minister’s discretionary fund in alleged contravention of rules, officials said. These funds are alleged to have been diverted during the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rule in the erstwhile state.

On March 5 this year, the ED had summoned Mehobooba for questioning at its headquarters in New Delhi on March 15. She was not present at home when the officials visited her residence. On Twitter, Mehbooba has said repeatedly that the Government of India (GoI) was trying to browbeat political opponents to make them toe their line. “GOIs tactics to intimidate & browbeat political opponents to make them toe their line has become tediously predictable,’’ she had said.

On March 9, the Delhi High Court gave an interim stay on summons issued by the ED.  Mehbooba had challenged the validity of the summons “without specifying the case for which she was being investigated’’. On March 18, however, the court refused to stay the ED summons. 

In her case, Mehbooba has sought to declare section 50 (power of ED officer to record statement) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act as void and inoperative. Her counsel argued that the section was unfairly discriminatory, bereft of safeguards, and violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution.

Sant Kumar Sharma, a seasoned journalist, is an authority on Jammu and Kashmir. Two of his books on Article 370 and Delimitation are already out. The third one on Indus Waters Treaty is now out and could be bought here.

Sant began as a teacher but after six years, joined the Indian Express, Chandigarh in 1990, the year when terrorism was taking its first step in J & K and soon there would be exodus of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He subsequently worked for The Statesman, The Times of India and Star News among others. He is based in Jammu since May 2000.

He edits, a newspaper from Jammu presently.


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