The Delhi High Court on Wednesday restrained the Enforcement Directorate from taking further steps against journalist Rana Ayyub on the basis of her assets attached by the central agency in a money laundering case, Bar and Bench reported.

The order will stay in effect till the next date of hearing on November 17. Justice Yashwant Varma issued the notice after Ayyub filed a petition against her assets being attached.

The central agency has filed a case against Ayyub under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, accusing her of misusing funds collected for charity through an online fundraising platform. In February, the Enforcement Directorate attached Ayyub’s assets worth Rs 1.77 crore, alleging that the money was linked to proceeds of the crime.

In her petition filed on Wednesday, Ayyub contended that the provisional order to attach the assets had been passed on February 4 and its validity had expired after completion of 180 days since then, according to ANI.

She argued that according to provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Enforcement Directorate no longer has jurisdiction to carry out proceedings against her based on the attached assets.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court also restrained Ayyub from disposing of or creating any third party rights of the attached funds, PTI reported.

On April 4, the High Court had allowed Ayyub to leave the country, days after the Enforcement Directorate had stopped her from boarding a flight to London based on a lookout circular against her.

On March 29, Ayyub had said that she had been stopped at Mumbai airport while she was heading for a flight to London. An hour before the departure, she said, she was issued a summons by the Enforcement Directorate to appear before it on April 1.

The case

The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a first information report filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police in September.

A Hindutva group called the Hindu IT Cell had filed a complaint against Ayyub, alleging that she had illegally collected money through Ketto “in the name of charity”. The complaint had alleged that the journalist received foreign funds without government approval.

Agency officials had told PTI that Ayyub raised Rs 2,69,44,680 on Ketto. The Enforcement Directorate had also claimed that she created a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh from the funds she had raised but did not use it for relief work.

Ayyub had described the allegations as “preposterous, wholly mala fide and belied by record”. They are based on “an intentional misreading of her bank statements”, the journalist had said.

She had said her personal bank account could not be used as Ketto required a physical copy of her permanent account number, or PAN card, to be furnished immediately. The document was unavailable at the time, Ayyub had said.