Srinagar, March 05:
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s plea against an ED order attaching his properties in a case of alleged money laundering came up before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday but was posted for hearing on March 8 after the judge recused himself.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister had challenged the Enforcement Directorate’s December 2020 order before the high court on Wednesday. The case will now be heard on Monday before a new judge.
Justice Ali Mohammed Magrey recused himself saying that he has declined hearing similar matters in the past.
The ED has alleged that Abdullah “misused” his position as president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) from 2001-2011 and made appointments in the sports body so Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sponsored funds could be laundered.
Abdullah said the list of properties — worth almost Rs 12 crore — attached by the ED in Kashmir and in Jammu were unrelated to the alleged criminal activity mentioned in the Final Report/FIR and termed it a “continuing violation of his fundamental rights”.
According to party MP Hasnain Masoodi, the properties were either ancestral or acquired before the alleged offence took place and were therefore not involved in any money-laundering or related criminal activity.
Abdullah has raised the validity of the ED in the case. He said in his petition that on the date of the registration of the ECIR (Enforcement Commission Information Report) and the initiation of investigation, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was governed by the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 1956, and had special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
He said the ED registered the case on December 28, 2018, under the Ranbir Penal Code (the Indian Penal Code’s substitute in the erstwhile state) without ascertaining whether it had any jurisdiction to do so.
On December 19, 2020 the ED issued a provisional order attaching the properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). An appeal could be filed before the adjudicating authority of the PMLA within a six-month period.
According to an ED statement, the attached properties include three residential houses — at Gupkar Road in Srinagar, Katipora Tehsil in Tanmarg and Bhatindi in Sunjwan village of Jammu.
“A commercial building at posh Residency Road in Srinagar has also been attached besides lands at four different places in JK,” the agency had said.
While the book value of the attached properties is Rs 11.86 crore, their market value is estimated to be about Rs 60-70 crore, officials said.
The 84-year-old NC patron has been questioned by the ED in the case several times, the last in October 2020 at Srinagar.