No relief to Farooq from HC in property attachment case

The High Court today while pronouncing its order declined to grant any interim relief to Member Parliament and National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah challenging the attachment of his properties by Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged irregularities in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) by recording that he has been only served with show cause notice and the order of attachment is provisional in nature.
“We do not consider it to be an appropriate case to pass any interim order at this stage particularly when the laundering of Rs 43.69 crores of the amount is not in dispute which in all fairness ought to be returned to the public body, the JKCA”, Division Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice V C Koul said.
The DB further said that the petitioner, in addition, is faced with an order of dismissal of an identical writ petition and as such, has to overcome all the findings returned and the reasoning recorded by the writ court therein before establishing a prima facie case and balance of convenience in his favour for the grant of interim order or to be successful in this petition.
“In the light of the dismissal of the earlier writ petition against which LPA is pending but without any interim protection, it is all the more reason for us not to pass any interim order at this stage”, court added and directed the respondents to file their counter affidavit to the petition of Abdullah within a period of three weeks, one week thereafter is allowed to the petitioner to file rejoinder affidavit.
Court said the petitioner had been the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) for some of the years probably from 2001 to 2012 and during the year 2002-03, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) transferred Rs.112,33,05,618 to JKCA. “It is alleged that out of the said amount a sum of Rs 43.69 crores has been siphoned off and misappropriated by the then Treasurer who was got illegally appointed and continued on the post by Abdullah”, read the order.
In connection with the above allegations of mis-appropriation of funds of JKCA, an FIR No.27 of 2012 was lodged on 10.03.2012 under Sections 120-B, 406 and 409 of Ranbir Penal Code against the office bearers of the JKCA.
The High Court directed for the transfer of the investigation in pursuance to the above FIR to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI on completion of the investigation charge sheeted six persons including the petitioner-Abdullah and the then Treasurer, JKCA, for causing wrongful loss to the JKCA to the tune of Rs.43.69 crores.
It is in this background, the DB said, that proceedings for provisional attachment of the properties of the petitioner have been initiated under Section 5(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
An order of provisional attachment has been passed on 18.12.2020 and a notice under Section 8 of the PMLA dated 05.02.2021 has been issued to the petitioner under Section 8(1) of the PMLA to show cause as to why the properties provisionally attached should not be declared to be properties involved in money laundering and confiscated by the Government.
A complaint has also been filed on 15.01.2021 by the Competent Authority before the Adjudicating Authority as required under Section 5(5) of the PMLA. Dr Abdullah has thus filed this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India inter alia praying for quashing of the Original Complaint dated 15.01.2021 filed before the Adjudicating Authority, quashing of the provisional attachment order dated 18.12.2020; and the notice dated 05.02.2021.
It is pertinent to mention here that similar proceedings were initiated against the Treasurer of the JKCA who had challenged the same by filing a writ petition which was dismissed vide judgment and order dated 15.10.2019 but against the same an appeal is pending before the Division Bench of this Court but with no interim protection or stay.
Senior Counsel Sidharath Luthra appearing for Dr Abdullah submitted that the petitioner can only be proceeded under the PMLA in connection with the scheduled offence as per the Schedule-A of the Act. The offences under Sections 406 and 409 of RPC are not the scheduled offences and merely for an offence under Section 120-B RPC, the petitioner is not liable to be proceeded with under the PMLA.
He added that the order of provisional attachment greatly undervalues the properties attached so as to attach almost all the properties of the petitioner. Therefore, the entire proceedings are without jurisdiction and are malafide.
Solicitor General of India in defence submitted that the PMPLA has been enacted by the Parliament in view of the political declaration adopted by the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly calling upon the member States to adopt national money laundering legislation.
He rebutted that India being the member State accordingly enacted the aforesaid Act extending it to the whole of India. Thus, it cannot be said that the aforesaid enactment is beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament

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