Stating that the charges of money laundering against journalist Rana Ayyub were serious, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday opposed her petition that sought to quash the ED’s Lookout Circular and its decision to stop her from flying abroad.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju who appeared for the ED, opposed Ayyub’s petition and said that she was involved in a serious offence of misappropriation of funds.
Raju said, “She received the money in dollars along with Indian rupees for charity and to help the poor and migrants during the COVID-19 period. We have found that the money for relief work has been siphoned off and fake bills have been submitted by her.”
The Bench of Justice Chander Dhari Singh sought a status report on Friday and listed the matter for hearing on April 4, 2022, reported ANI.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, who was appearing for Ayyub submitted that “all money in her bank accounts have been seized. The mala fide is writ large. After February 1, there is no summon by ED and no communication from their side. The ED's action is nothing but a sham because my client is a critic of the government.”
Notably, Ayyub moved the Delhi High Court on Thursday challenging the ED’s decision to stop her from flying out of the country. She further sought directions from the Court to enable her to fly abroad and to quash a lookout circular issued against her.
Her plea stated that on March 29, 2022, the petitioner arrived at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport to board an Air India flight to London, Heathrow, scheduled to depart at 14:25 hours, to attend events about the global problem of cyber attacks on women journalists, as well as to deliver a keynote speech on the status of journalism in India.
“However, at around noon, the petitioner was detained in a room adjacent to the immigration counter, and she was informed that the immigration officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs were seeking clarifications regarding some "remark" on the petitioner's file,” it stated.
The plea added, “The petitioner was then informed, over the course of the next hour, that the officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have instructions from the Enforcement Directorate to not allow the Petitioner to board her flight to London, and the immigration stamp on her passport was stamped as ‘cancelled’.”
Ayyub said that she has been harassed, humiliated, and insulted by the mala fide action of the ED, and the organisers of the journalist events in London and Italy have also suffered losses and had inconvenience and disturbance due to the arbitrary detention of the petitioner at the airport on March 29.
The plea further read, “The petitioner is required professionally to frequently travel across the globe, and unreasonable, arbitrary, and mala fide restrictions on such travel is a direct violation of the Petitioner's right to free speech and expression, and right to practice her profession, as a member of the global and national media fraternity.”