Delhi High Court today said it will pass orders on Monday on the plea of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife against the attachment proceedings being carried out by theEnforcement Directorate (ED) with regard to some of their assets.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said it would pass orders on the application of Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh seeking stay on the provisional attachment order (PAO) of March 23 and the proceedings against them under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the couple, argued that his clients had given an undertaking not to deal in the properties which have been provisionally attached by ED and, therefore, there should have been no apprehension in the minds of the agency that those assets would be disposed of.
He said a final order was expected to be passed on May 31 despite the undertaking and sought that they be protected till their petitions challenging the ED’s decision and proceedings under PMLA are decided.
He also contended no provisional orders could be passed against them as no charge sheet has been filed in the CBI case against them and the matter involving their income tax returns was pending in the Supreme Court.
He said the basis of passing PAO under PMLA are the Income Tax department’s inquiries and investigation “which are under challenge and are not conclusive of any allegation” made against them.
He also said that ED has no material and has disclosed no reasons to believe that the petitioners would dispose of the provisionally attached assets.
He said the court had stayed further proceedings in the PMLA case against Virbhadra’s son and daughter pursuant to provisional attachment of some of their assets and sought a similar order in the instant case.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for ED, argued that the stay order in favour of Virbhadra’s children was passed as they were not named in the FIR under PMLA, while the couple has been.
The ASG further contended that ED cannot stop acting on the basis of an undertaking as then everyone in such cases would start filing undertakings.
ED, in an affidavit filed before the bench, had sought
dismissal of the couple’s petition on the ground that it was premature since the attachment order was only provisional and the petitioners have the opportunity to approach the adjudicating authority to state their case.
ED has also said that there is a provision under the PMLA for appeal and the petitioners ought not to have come before the high court.
Singh and his wife have sought stay on the March 23 PAO of ED, besides quashing and setting aside of the same, on the ground that it has “exceeded its jurisdiction”.
They have also sought quashing of the April 26 notice issued to them under PMLA.
ED has attached assets worth nearly Rs 5.80 crore belonging to Pratibha Singh and Rs 1.34 crore of Virbhadra Singh, their joint petition said.
They have, in their plea, urged the court to quash the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) of October 27, 2015, lodged purportedly under PMLA.
( Source – PTI )