The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will hear on January 31, a plea by journalist Rana Ayyub against the summonses issued by a Ghaziabad court in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case.
The top court asked the Ghaziabad court to adjourn the hearing on January 27 and scheduled it after January 31.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Ayyub, submitted before a bench comprising justices Krishna Murari and V. Ramasubramanian, that petitioner has been summoned by a Ghaziabad court and sought a stay on the coercive proceedings. The counsel argued that she is challenging the jurisdiction and cognizance of this case by PMLA court in Uttar Pradesh and added no part of the offence occurred there. Grover said the liberty of her client is at stake, and questioned whether ED be allowed to drag her to any court in the country.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, opposed her submissions. Mehta said crowdfunding is the new device where you collect money and added, why can she not file for anticipatory bail like all litigants? Every litigant is equal before the eyes of law.
After hearing arguments, the bench said it will hear the case on January 31 and in the meantime Ghaziabad special court is requested to adjourn the hearing fixed on January 27 to a date after January 31. The top court clarified that this order is being passed because the hearing before it cannot be concluded today due to paucity of time and not on merits.
The ED, in October last year, had filed a charge sheet against Ayyub, accusing her of cheating the public and utilising charity funds worth Rs 2.69 crore for creating her personal assets, and also violating the foreign contribution law.
Ayyub moved the apex court seeking quashing of the proceedings initiated by the ED in Ghaziabad. The plea contended that the alleged offence of money laundering occurred in Mumbai, while citing lack of jurisdiction.
A special PMLA court in Ghaziabad, in November last year, had taken cognizance of the prosecution complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate and summoned Ayyub. The special court said that from the perusal of the entire record there is sufficient evidence as to a prima facie case for taking cognizance against Rana Ayyub with regard to commission of offence.
The special court has noted the alleged offence is connection with obtaining illegally money from the general public in the name of charity via ‘Ketto’ platform, which is an online crowdfunding platform, in three campaigns without any kind of approval, raising huge amounts in the bank account of her sister and father and later transferring the same to her own bank account which was not used for the intended purpose.