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Rana Ayyub used crowd-sourced money for personal luxury and enjoyment: ED to Supreme Court in PMLA case

"Our investigation revealed that the money was misdirected and used for personal indulgence, luxuries, and pleasure. People were donating large sums without knowledge of where the money was being directed," said Mehta, an advocate representing ED.

On Tuesday, the Enforcement Directorate submitted before the Supreme Court that donation fraud accused Rana Ayyub had used money sought for slum dwellers, COVID-19, and some work in Assam for “personal enjoyment, luxuries and pleasure”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), opposed a writ petition filed by Ayyub before a bench consisting of Justices V Ramasubramanian and J B Pardiwala. The writ petition was against the summons issued by a Ghaziabad court in connection with a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The court reserved its judgement in the matter.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Ayyub, argued that her client can’t be deprived of personal liberty by a procedure not authorised by law.

During the arguments, advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Ayyub, contended her client can’t be deprived of personal liberty by a procedure not authorised by law.

Grover stated that the Enforcement Directorate has attached her client’s personal bank account at HDFC in Navi Mumbai, containing around Rs 1 crore. She argued that since the account is in Navi Mumbai and her client resides there, the Ghaziabad court lacks jurisdiction to try the offence.

“My personal liberty is being threatened, and the issuance of summons is not legally authorized,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court judgement in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary. She added that the special court should be established in the area where the offence was committed.

She also claimed that the complainant, Vikas Pandey, a member of the Hindu IT cell, has no valid complaint as he has not been defrauded by her.

However, Mehta, on the other hand, contended that Ayyub sought over Rs 1 crores in the name of donations and transferred Rs 50 lakhs to a fixed deposit, and even after the first campaign was over, she continued receiving money.

“Our investigation revealed that the money was misdirected and used for personal indulgence, luxuries, and pleasure. People were donating large sums without knowledge of where the money was being directed,” he said.

Mehta, for his part, added that the Enforcement Directorate filed a prosecution complaint in the Ghaziabad court as part of the cause of action that arose in Uttar Pradesh, where many individuals, including those from Ghaziabad, contributed money to her crowdfunding campaign.

He stated that the offence of money laundering is not a standalone crime and is always tied to a listed offence for which an FIR was filed at the Indirapuram police station in Ghaziabad.

The Solicitor General said Ayyub used fake bills for groceries and others to show expenses but was used for personal luxury items and consumption.

Challenging Ayyub’s counsel, Mehta asked if a person chooses to launder money in Singapore or Thiruvananthapuram, will the agency have to go and file a case there? “This is not the scheme of the law,” he emphasised.

Mehta further added that a judicial order of summons cannot be subjected to a petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution.

On January 25, the top court asked the Ghaziabad court to defer its hearing in the case after it had issued a summons against journalist Rana Ayyub for January 27.

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