Farooq Abdullah challenges ED jurisdiction to attach his assets before HC

Farooq said that the current government is good at making the announcements only as it lacks action. GK Photo

Former Chief Minister and NC president Farooq Abdullah has petitioned the High Court challenging the jurisdiction of the Enforcement Directorate to attach his assets in connection with a money laundering probe linked to alleged financial irregularities in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).

In the petition filed through advocate Areeb Javed Kawoosa, the NC president and MP Farooq Abdullah submits that his ancestral and family properties in Jammu and Kashmir have been illegally attached by the ED as it had no jurisdiction to do the same.

“On the date of the registration of the ECIR (Enforcement Commission Information Report)  and the initiation of investigation, the State of Jammu & Kashmir was governed by the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, 1956 and had special status in terms of Article 370 of the Constitution of India”, the petition reads.

The petition pleads that on 28.12.2018 the ED registered the ECIR with section 120B RPC in the FIR and failed to appreciate that it had no jurisdiction to register it.

“The PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) was not a law which could extend to the jurisdiction of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, as the Parliament  was not having legislative competence to enact the said law in terms of the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954,” says the petitioner.

Furthermore, he says, the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) enacted in the State of Jammu and Kashmir on 6 August, 1932 was not a central law nor was Section 120B of the RPC or any other provision of it contained in the Schedule to the PMLA.

The ECIR was registered by the ED pursuant to filing of chargesheet (final report)  on 11.07.2018 before the CJM Srinagar by the CBI New Delhi in the FIR it had registered.

The petitioner submits that his attached properties are admittedly unrelated to the alleged criminal activity mentioned in the Final Report/FIR and is a continuing violation of his fundamental rights.

The petitioner submits that JKCA is a society registered under the Jammu and Kashmir Societies Registration Act, and is governed by the Rules of the Jammu and Cricket Association, 1957.

“In 2012, 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 notice of the petitioner,” says the petition.

“The petitioner 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,” it adds.

The petitioner submits that along with initiating a police investigation regarding these allegations, he constituted an In-House Probe Committee comprising of independent members of the Working Committee, report of which confirmed the embezzlement of funds by certain office bearers of the JKCA.

“Despite having no jurisdiction, the ED initiated its investigation. The ED issued the PAO, as per which properties of the Petitioner were illegally and arbitrarily attached”, the petitioner says.

“All properties attached by the ED are either ancestral or acquired by the petitioner prior to the date of the alleged offences. 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”.

The petition is seeking quashing of Original Complaint dated 15.01.2021 pending before  Adjudicating Authority of ED along with the Provisional Attachment Order dated 18.12.2020 issued in ECIR dated 28.12.2018 as well as notice dated 05.02.2021 issued under Section 8 Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 by the Adjudicating Authority.

Vide the PAO, the ED has attached several properties belonging to the petitioner. It has attached assets of Farooq Abdullah and others and put it worth Rs 11.86 crore in connection with its money laundering probe linked to alleged financial irregularities in JKCA.