The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea filed by journalist Rana Ayyub challenging summonses issued by a special court in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case.
A Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and J.B. Pardiwala said that under Section 3 PMLA the place where any of the six activities are carried out and that is the place where offence of money laundering takes place and the question as to which is the place is a question of fact decided on evidence. "We leave it open to raise this issue before trial court. We are dismissing this petition," said the bench.
During the hearing, the Enforcement Directorate had argued that Ayyub received money through a crowdfunding platform for the purpose of slum dwellers, Covid, and some work in Assam, however she diverted the money and used it for "personal enjoyment".
Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Ayyub, had argued that can her client be deprived of personal liberty by a procedure not authorised by law? She said the ED has attached her client's personal bank account in a bank at Navi Mumbai in which around Rs 1 crore was lying. Grover pressed that the Ghaziabad court has no jurisdiction to try the offence as the alleged act is claimed to have been committed in Mumbai.
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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, submitted that Ayyub raised funds of three aspects -- slum dwellers, Covid, and for some work in Assam -- on Ketto, which is a crowdfunding platform. He added that nearly Rs 1 crore was collected and Rs 50 lakh was transferred to a personal account in fixed deposit, and after the first campaign was over she kept receiving money. "We found that money was diverted...used for personal enjoyment...people were donating crores without knowing where money was going...," said Mehta.
He further submitted that a prosecution complaint was filed in the Ghaziabad court by the agency as part of the cause of action that had arisen in Uttar Pradesh, where many people, including from Ghaziabad, donated money for her crowdfunding campaign.
On January 31, the top court had reserved its judgment on Ayyub's plea.