Farooq Moves HC Against ED Attaching His Property, Judge Recuses

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Dr Farooq Abdullah | KO File Photo

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court judge, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, on Friday declined to hear National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s petition against an ED order attaching his properties in a case of alleged money laundering.

“During the course of hearing of submissions of learned counsel for the petitioner (Farooq), I bethought that earlier in some matters arising out of somewhat identical basic allegations, I have declined to hear the case,” Justice Magrey said. “On confirmation it was revealed that in fact, I have declined to hear the PIL No. 08/2014, titled Majid Yaqoob Dar and Anr. Vs. State and Ors., while sitting in the Division Bench with Mr. Justice N. Paul Vasantha Kumar, the then Chief Justice, by order dated 28.07.2015, passed therein and another case bearing LPA No. 293/2019 titled Ahsan Ahmad Mirza and Ors., Vs. Enforcement Directorate and Anr., while sitting in the Division Bench, by order dated 02.12.2019.”

In light of above, the judge said: “the judicial propriety demands the case be listed before some other Bench, on 08.03.2021.”

The ED has alleged that Abdullah misused his position as president of the J&K Cricket Association (JKCA) from 2001-2011 and made appointments in the sports body so Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sponsored funds could be laundered.

The former three-time Chief minister said the list of properties, valued around almost Rs 12 crore, attached by the ED in Kashmir and in Jammu were unrelated to the alleged activity mentioned in the Final Report/FIR.

The 83-year-old parliamentarian has said his ancestral and family properties in Jammu and Kashmir have been illegally attached by ED despite the fact that it had “no jurisdiction to do the same.”

“The illegal, excessive and arbitrary attachment of properties has resulted in grave injustice to the Petitioner, and is a continuing violation of his fundamental rights under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution.”

In 2012,  he submits that certain allegations regarding the siphoning off of JKCA funds emerged.

“As per the Final Report, these discrepancies were noticed by the then Treasurer, Manzoor Ahmed Wazir who brought it to the notice of the President (Farooq) who convened an immediate meeting of the Office Bearers of JKCA and subsequently an FIR No. 27/2012 dated 10.03.2012 under Sections 409, 406, 120B RPC was registered in PS Ram Munshi Bagh naming the erstwhile General Secretary and Treasurer namely Saleem Khan and Ahsan Ahmad Mirza as accused persons.”

He said along with initiating a police investigation regarding these allegations, Farooq submits that he constituted an In-House Probe Committee comprising of independent members of the Working Committee. “This Probe Committee submitted its interim report on 13.05.2012 and confirmed the embezzlement of funds by certain office bearers of the JKCA.”

He said ED’s 18 December 2020 action, attaching his properties, was illegal and arbitrary.

“A bare perusal makes it amply clear that the ED has simply adopted the case of the CBI and the resulting Final Report filed against the Petitioner (Farooq). Barring the recording of a handful of statements under Section 50 PMLA, no independent inquiry has been conducted into the present case, rendering it inherently biased,” he said, adding, “Nowhere has the ED satisfactorily offered reasons to believe the (Farooq) is in possession of proceeds of crime, or that such proceeds are likely to be concealed, transferred or dealt with in any manner which may result in frustrating any proceedings under the PMLA, as is required under Section 5 PMLA. Admittedly, the properties attached have no relation to the present case.”

He said that all properties attached by the ED are either ancestral or acquired by him prior to the date of the alleged offences. “The allegations against (Farooq) pertain to the period 2004 to 2009.The attached properties were acquired prior to the alleged commission of the offences, and hence were not involved in any alleged money-laundering or related criminal activity,” he said and sought directions to stay the proceedings pending before the Adjudicating Authority in relation to the “Original Complaint No. 1387 of 2021 during the pendency of the present petition.” (GNS)

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