New Delhi, January 9: A month after National Investigating Agency suffered huge embarrassment with quashing of its Red Corner Notice request by the Interpol, the Judicial Tribunal on Tuesday pulled the Enforcement Directorate over its investigation against controversial Islamic preacher and head of Islamic Research Foundation Dr Zakir Naik. Also Read - CBI On Sushant Singh Rajput Death Case: We Are Conducting Professional Investigation, No Aspect is Ruled Out
Justice Manmohan Singh, head of the Appellate Tribunal for PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) at New Delhi, restrained the ED from taking over Zakir Naik’s properties in Mumbai attached by the agency. The Tribunal also drew a parallel comparison between Zakir Naik and self-styled godman Asaram Bapu. Also Read - NCB Chief Rakesh Asthana Reviews Evidence in Bollywood Drug Nexus Case, Meets Officers
“I can name 10 spiritual leaders who have properties worth more than Re 10,000 crore each and they are facing criminal cases. Have you acted against even one of them? What have you done against Asaram Bapu?” the Judge asked ED. Also Read - Sushant Singh Rajput Case: CBI, AIIMS Medical Board to Meet on Tuesday, September 22
The Tribunal also raised questions whether the agency was being selective in acting against Naik, and its chairman observed that the ED has done nothing in last 10 years about confiscating properties of Asaram but it looked quite active in this case.
The Tribunal also grilled the ED’s counsel over the ground as to why properties required to be attached when the chargesheet had not made out appropriate offences.
When the lawyer said that Naik’s speeches instigated youths through his speeches, Justice Singh pointed out that the ED in last few months did not produce any statements from “such misguided youths” as to how these speeches pushed them to commit illegal acts.
Justice Singh said that “I have heard many of these speeches and I can tell you that so far I haven’t come across anything objectionable”.
The Tribunal then ordered a “status quo”, thereby stopping the investigating agency from taking possession of a school in Chennai and a commercial property in Mumbai.
Last year, the ED has already attached Naik’s three properties, including these two, but the judge said the agency cannot proceed with the physical possession.