Supreme Court rejects Rana Ayyub's plea
New Delhi/UNI: In a big setback for journalist Rana Ayyub, the Supreme Court in its verdict on Tuesday rejected her plea challenging the summons issued to her by a special PMLA court in Ghaziabad in a money laundering case.
Journalist Ayyub had moved the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction of Ghaziabad court to initiate proceedings against her in a money laundering case.
The apex court, however, allowed her to raise an objection before that court which would take a call on the basis of evidence.
"We have said that under Sec 3 of PMLA, the place where any of the six activities or processes are carried out, is the place where the offence under PMLA is said to have taken place.
"We are keeping this question open, to be raised after investigation," the Supreme Court said, in its order on Tuesday.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice V Ramasubramanian and also comprising Justice JB Pardiwa passed the order today.
It is alleged by the ED that Ayyub had collected/received the money for good causes through crowdfunding, but she allegedly laundered it later, and she misused the funds collected through public donations and she used it for her own personal luxury items and consumption.
Vrinda Grover, lawyer for Rana Ayyub, had told the Supreme Court that the FIR in Ghaziabad was the trigger which was lodged at Indirapuram.
This FIR had been lodged on September 7, 2021, by one, Vikas S, who is a founding member of the Hindu IT Cell.
"I have always joined the investigation, when called to cooperate. Now a prosecution complaint is filed in special court against corruption, Ghaziabad by the ED.
"Ghaziabad has no jurisdiction either in law or under PMLA. I am a resident of Mumbai," Ayyub had contended before the Top Court and added that jurisdiction is of Mumbai, if at all, may be.
"This is completely mala fide on the part of ED to register the complaint against me. I have nothing to do with the money laundering case, as alleged by the ED," Grover said on behalf of Ayyub.
"Nobody is saying that I have cheated anyone, but I am being charged for a money laundering case. How, I don't know. The ED Mumbai case, which was initially registered against me, had been transferred to Delhi ED case. I don't know," Grover said.
"My liberty is under threat. I have no role in any kind of money laundering case," Grover said.
"I may or may not have laundered money but I will face prosecution. This is an extremely draconian legislation where bail is very difficult. There is a threat to my personal safety and security. This order by Ghaziabad court is unlawful," Grover pleaded to the Supreme Court.
The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, senior lawyer for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), said that during the investigation, which is a meticulous one, it was found that "money were diverted for her (Rana Ayyub's) personal enjoyment.." several money deposits were from Uttar Pradesh and Ghaziabad.
Mehta said that the money laundering offence in law is not an independent offence and is always connected to a scheduled offence. Suppose an officer takes Rs 5 crores and then it is laundered. So taking the money will be a predicate offence and how it is laundered is a scheduled offence by ED.
He said that if the person chooses to launder money in Singapore then only the Singapore court has jurisdiction and ED has to go there. That is not the scheme of the act. After a detailed probe it was found that Ketto platform is a crowdfunding platform.
The cause is for charity and meant for slum dwellers, Assam, and COVID.. The first funding resulted in 1 crores and 50 lakh FD was done in personal account and said fund is over. The people from Ghaziabad and UP also contributed money.
"Money was shown by fake bills, groceries etc and it was laundered on personal luxury items and consumption. Several deposits in Ketto were by UP and Ghaziabad and thus part cause of action lies in Ghaziabad," Mehta told the Apex Court and said that Ghaziabad court has the jurisdiction to go ahead.
"In the name of charity, she has raised, huge amount of money, but she used it for her own consumption and it should stop," Mehta said.
Opposing the submission of Mehta, Grover said that no chargesheet has been filed in the case, and I have participated in any kind of investigation and co-operated with the agency. I have never been arrested during the investigation. Ghaziabad has absolutely no jurisdiction to summon me, she said.