‘What about Asaram Bapu?’: Tribunal restrains ED from taking over Zakir Naik’s assets
The judge criticised the investigating agency for not acting against religious leaders who face criminal cases.
A tribunal under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on Monday restrained the Enforcement Directorate from taking possession of immovable assets that it has attached in connection with a money laundering case against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, PTI reported. Naik was booked by the National Investigation Agency for inciting the youth to take up terror activities and for hate speech.
Justice Manmohan Singh criticised the Enforcement Directorate of ignoring religious leaders who have criminal cases registered against them, The Times of India reported. He reportedly said that the Enforcement Directorate had done nothing to attach Asaram Bapu’s properties, but in the case of the Naik, the agency was “working with quite a bit of speed”.
“I can give you the names of 10 “babas” who have assets in excess of Rs 10,000 crore each and they have criminal cases against them,” Singh told the ED’s counsel, according to the newspaper. “Have you taken action against even one of them? What about Asaram Bapu?”
Asaram Bapu, who has been in Jodhpur jail since 2013, faces a sexual assault case filed by two Surat-based sisters. Two more separate sexual assault cases have been filed against him in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The Enforcement Directorate has said that it will appeal against the tribunal’s order in the High Court, PTI reported.
The NIA has been investigating the televangelist’s alleged links to militants after the Centre banned his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation, on November 15, 2016, for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Naik had been under scrutiny since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the militants behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016.
On April 13, a special court in Mumbai had issued an open-dated, non-bailable warrant against the preacher in connection with a money laundering case. The Regional Passport Office in Mumbai had revoked Naik’s passport on the NIA’s recommendation on July 19.