Delhi HC reserves order on plea against Virbhadra property attachment order

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on a plea challenging an Enforcement Directorate (ED) order to provisionally attach certain properties in connection with a money laundering case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said that the March 23 provisional attachment order (PAO) would continue till April 26, the day it will pass an interim order.

The court, however, stopped the ED from further proceeding on a complaint filed with the adjudicating authority in connection with the PAO.

Senior advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for petitioners Aparajita Kumari and Vikramaditya Singh, Virbhadra Singh’s daughter and son respectively, told the court that the directorate attached movable assets worth Rs.15.85 lakh of Aparajita and Rs.62.8 lakh of Vikramaditya.

He said: “No property of the petitioners can be attached without giving them an opportunity to explain the sources for the property under attachment.”

Sibal submitted that the proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were “bad in law” because the case information report did not mention any money laundering charges.

The petitioners sought a stay on and quashing of the ED’s March 23 order issued under the PMLA.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the ED, opposed the plea saying it was “premature” as the agency had filed a complaint before its adjudicating authority, which would take a call on the matter.

He said that the provisional attachment order remains in force for 180 days, during which the petitioners could use the attached properties but cannot sell these or create third party rights.

“All attached properties have been found to be prima facie involved in the offence of money laundering,” Jain told the court.

The ED registered a case under the PMLA at its New Delhi office in November 2015 against Virbhadra Singh and others, including his wife Pratibha Singh.

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