The Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate to former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, PTI reported, quoting her counsel.
A division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Hairam Bhambhani asked the central agency, which investigates financial crimes, to not press for Mufti’s personal appearance. The matter will be heard again on March 19.
Mufti, who is the chief of the Peoples Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir, was summoned under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, by the central agency for “evidence” in a case filed by it. She was asked to appear for questioning on March 15.
The politician had challenged the validity of the summons, contending that the Enforcement Directorate had not specified the case for which she was being investigated. In her plea, the PDP chief said that she was not informed if she was summoned as a witness or an accused.
Mufti’s plea also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 50 and other provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, or PMLA.
Section 50 of the Act empowers the authority to summon any person to provide evidence on produced records. Those summoned were bound to answer questions and to produce the documents to the Enforcement Directorate, failing which they can be penalised under the Act.
In her plea, Mufti further noted that Section 66 of the PMLA states that information, including compelled statements, can be shared with other agencies.
This means that such a statement may be used for offences under other laws, while being treated as evidence. This counters the right to protection against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Constitution, she said.
Mufti argued that none of the protections against compelled self-incrimination, whether it is under the Constitution or any other statutes, govern Section 50 of the PMLA. This makes the section arbitrary and discriminatory, she contended.
The PDP chief had sought an interim stay on the summons till the question in relation to the constitutionality of Section 50 of the Act was decided.