Delhi High Court today reserved for April 26 its order on the plea filed by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s two children challenging the ED’s provisional attachment order of some of their assets in connection with a money laundering case.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, however, said the March 23 provisional attachment order (PAO) would continue till April 26.
“Call for order on April 26. Till such time, the impugned provisional attachment order shall continue,” the bench said.
During the hearing, senior advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for Virbhadra’s daughter Aparajita Kumari and son Vikramaditya Singh, questioned the PAO saying such action cannot be taken in the absence of a charge sheet against his clients.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), opposed the plea saying it was “pre-mature” as the agency has filed a complaint before its adjudicating authority which would take a call on it.
“The PAO was reasoned. This is not a case to grant any interim order,” he said.
During the hearing, the bench asked, “What is the effect of the provisional attachment? How does it affect the party?”
Responding to the query, the ASG said, “they cannot sell the properties which have been provisionally attached.”
ED, in its affidavit, has sought dismissal of the plea, saying the “purpose of attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 needs to be seen. All attached properties have been found to be prima-facie involved in the offence of the money laundering.
The petitioners have sought stay on the March 23 PAO of the ED, saying it has “exceeded its jurisdiction”.
They have also challenged the recently amended second proviso of section 5(1) of the PMLA, claiming it should be declared unconstitutional as it was contradictory to the scheme of the Act and violated the Constitution.
The second proviso of section 5(1) of PMLA provides that any property of a person may be attached if ED’s concerned officer has reasons to believe, on the basis of material in his possession, that if such property allegedly involved in money-laundering is not attached immediately, it is likely to frustrate any proceeding under the Act.
The petitioners have claimed that they were not named as accused in the ED’s ECIR filed in the case and the March 23 order was passed but no scheduled offence has been alleged against them.
ED has provisionally attached assets worth Rs 15,85,639 belonging to Aparajita and Rs 62,86,747 of Vikramaditya, their joint petition said and added that this order was passed without them being named in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) of October 27, 2015 lodged against Virbhadra and others under PMLA.
The plea said the basis of passing PAO under PMLA are the Income Tax department’s inquiries and investigation “which itself are under challenge and are not conclusive of any allegation” made against them.
( Source – PTI )