A judicial tribunal in Delhi has slammed the Enforcement Directorate for attaching the properties of renowned Islamic scholar, Dr Zakir Naik.
Pulling up the ED, Justice Manmohan Singh, who heads the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act, said, “I can name 10 babas who have properties worth more than Rs 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?”
Justice Singh wondered if the ED was being selective in acting against Naik, while observing that the agency seems to have done nothing in the last 10 years about confiscating properties of Asaram but looked to act a lot quicker in this case, reported News18.
The ED lawyer argued that Naik had instigated youth through his speeches. To which the tribunal chairman asked why the ED had failed to produce any prima facie evidence or statements from “such misguided youth” as to how these speeches pushed them to commit illegal acts.
He asked, “Have you recorded anybody’s statement as to how they were influenced by these speeches? Your charge-sheet does not even mention how these speeches played any role in the terror attack in Dhaka in 2015.”
The judge added, “Have you read the speeches which form part of your chargesheet? I have heard many of these speeches and I can tell you that so far I haven’t come across anything objectionable.”
The central probe agency, in March last year, had attached a school building in Chennai and a warehouse as part of its provisional attachment in the case and it was carried out under the stringent criminal provision of the PMLA.
As per the legal scheme under the Act, such an order goes to the Adjudicating Authority for final approval and in case the ED’s action is endorsed, the affected party can appeal it before the Appellate Authority of the law.
The latest chiding of the ED by the tribunal comes just weeks after the Interpol rejected India’s Red Corner Notice against Naik on the grounds that it lacked evidence and was a failure by Indian authorities to follow due process of law while also pointing out political and religious bias that formed the basis of such a notice.
The Modi government has already banned the IRF for five years. The entire case against Naik was based on a media report published in a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, which had alleged that one of the suicide bombers behind the Dhaka terror attack in 2015 was inspired by his speeches. The paper had later apologised for its fake reporting.
Continuing the harassment against the IRF founder, the Mumbai civic body’s education department had said that Naik’s Islamic International School (IIS) in south Mumbai was operating without authorisation.