Centre files plea in SC to transfer Mehbooba's petition

Filed plea in SC to transfer Mehbooba Mufti’s petition in PMLA case, Centre tells HC

The Centre had earlier told the court that several petitions concerning various provisions and scheme of PMLA are pending in the Supreme Court

PDP leader Mehbooba’s Mufti. Credit: AFP File Photo

The Centre Wednesday informed the Delhi High Court that it has filed a plea before the Supreme Court seeking the transfer of PDP leader Mehbooba’s Mufti’s petition which challenges the Constitutional validity of a provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The counsel representing the Centre told a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh that the transfer petition is likely to come up for hearing before the apex court within a week -- on October 29.

The high court listed the matter for further hearing on December 23.

The Centre had earlier told the court that several petitions concerning various provisions and scheme of PMLA are pending in the Supreme Court and the matter has been assigned to a special bench and parties have exchanged certain queries, one of which is directly in question here.

The Centre had said it intended to move a transfer petition so that the matters can be done together.

It had said that the questions before the Supreme Court included issues concerning the commencement of investigation under PMLA.

Former J&K Chief Minister Mufti, in her plea filed in March, has sought to declare Section 50 of the PMLA as void and inoperative, being unfairly discriminatory, bereft of safeguards, and violative of Article 20(3) of the Constitution.

Section 50 of the Act empowers the authority, that is, officers of ED, to summon any person to give evidence or produce records. All persons summoned are bound to answer the questions put to them and to produce the documents as required by the ED officers, failing which they can be penalized under the Act.

She has also challenged issuance of summons to her by the ED in a money laundering case and sought a stay which was refused by the court earlier.

The 61-year-old leader, who was released last year after more than a year in detention following the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, was served notice to appear at the ED headquarters in the national capital.

Initially, the ED had summoned Mufti for March 15 but it did not insist on her personal appearance at that time. Thereafter, she was summoned for March 22.

Mufti, in her petition, said she has received summons from the ED under the provisions of the PMLA, purporting to call for 'evidence' on pain of punishment, whereas she is, to all intents and purposes, a subject of investigation.

"She has not been informed if she is being summoned as an accused or as a witness. She has also not been informed of what she is being summoned in connection with and the scheduled offence under the PMLA which gave rise to the proceedings in respect of which impugned summons has been issued to her. The petitioner is not the subject of investigation, nor is she an accused, in any of the scheduled offences to the best of her knowledge,” the plea said.

It claimed that ever since Mufti was released from the preventive detention following the formal abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, there have been a series of hostile acts by the State, against her, acquaintances and old family friends, who have all been summoned by the ED and a roving inquiry about her personal, political and financial affairs was made, in the course of which their personal devices have been seized.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the ED, had said there was no need to issue a formal notice to them as they are already appearing before the court and said they will file a short note on the issue of the question of law.

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