The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the Enforcement Directorate to maintain status quo with respect to the bank accounts and fixed deposits of human rights watchdog Amnesty International that it has attached, The Indian Express reported.

Justice Rekha Palli directed that status quo should be maintained till a Prevention of Money Laundering Act Tribunal hears Amnesty’s appeal against the confirmation of the attachment order. The judge passed a similar order with respect to the Indians for Amnesty International Trust.

The court then disposed of the matter.

In February, the Enforcement Directorate had provisionally attached movable assets worth Rs 17.66 crore of Amnesty International India and others. The action was taken after the agency began an investigation on the basis of a Central Bureau of Investigation complaint.

The agency had said that the total attachment in the case stood at Rs 19.54 crore.

Amnesty International told the High Court that its appeal before the PMLA Tribunal was unlikely to be taken up soon, as the tribunal was not functional, according to PTI. It said that this was because the tenure of its acting chairperson ended in April.

The organisation said that the functioning of the tribunal could be suspended for an indefinite period of time, as the Centre had not issued any notification for the appointment of a new chairperson or members. It further contended that the High Court had granted a stay in several other similar petitions since April.

Justice Palli noted that the Enforcement Directorate had not disputed Amnesty’s statement about the status of the appellate tribunal.

Allegations against Amnesty

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Amnesty International India Private Limited and Indians for Amnesty International Trust acquired the “proceeds of crime” and layered it in the form of various movable properties.

The central agency said that the Amnesty International India Foundation Trust was given permission during 2011-’12 for receiving foreign contributions from the Amnesty International-United Kingdom, reported The Hindu. However, it was cancelled following adverse inputs received from security agencies.

The agency alleged that the Indians for Amnesty International Trust and the Amnesty International India Private Limited were then formed in 2012-’13 and 2013-’14 to “escape the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] route and carried out NGO activities in the guise of service export and FDI [Foreign Direct Investment]”.

On the other hand, Amnesty said its “lawful fundraising model” was being portrayed as money laundering because Amnesty India had challenged the “government’s grave inactions and excesses”.