Says Police Not Barred To ‘Expedite Verification’ While Petition Is Pending Before It
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday issued notice returnable by two weeks on a petition filed by former Chief Minister and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, regarding issuance of passport allegedly denied to her for want for police verification.
While issuing the notice to MEA, Regional Passport Officer and Additional Director General Police among others, a bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey made it clear the pendency of plea “shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification.”
In her plea, Mehbooba Mufti submits that the passport issued to her was valid till 31st May 2019.
Subsequently, she applied for issuance of a passport before the Regional Passport Officer on 11 December last year.
Former Advocate General and senior lawyer Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, representing her, submitted that as per circular instructions issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days.
However, he said, in the instant case, despite the lapse of three months, passport has not been issued to Mehbooba.
The senior counsel further submitted that Mehbooba while availing the tracking facility on the Passport Officer’s website, came to know about the status of the passport as “pending for physical verification at respective Thana under SP office, District Srinagar.”
He submitted that Mehbooba approached the Senior Superintendent of Police on February 13 this year with the request to forward the police report to the passport office but till date, there is no change in the status of the passport on the portal of the passport office . Therefore, he said, Mehbooba had no option but to approach the Court for relief.
She has also sought directions declaring the action of officials concerned in not allowing her to travel abroad as illegal and unconstitutional violating her fundamental right to travel abroad as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution or India.
T.M. Shamsi, ASGI waived notice on behalf of MEA 1 and Passport Officer while B.A. Dar, Senior Additional Advocate General waived the notice on behalf of local government and police.
“It is made clear the pendency of writ petition shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification,” the court said.
Meanwhile, the high court while hearing a plea by Mehbooba’s mother, issued notice to the concerned on the plea for passport to her as well.
Farooq’s Plea Listed For March 18
Meanwhile High Court Monday heard and listed on March 18 again a petition filed by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s against an Enforcement Directorate’s order attaching his properties in a case of alleged money laundering.
A bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thankur heard the plea and ordered its continuation next week after briefly hearing the parties.
Last week, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey had recused from hearing the plea and had posted it for today before a separate bench.
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 the 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,” he says in the plea.
In 2012, he submitted 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.”
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