No proof Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh house bought with crime money: PMLA
PMLA appellate tribunal orders status quo on ED’s notice of vacation of Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh house; attachment to continue.
The Enforcement Directorate had on August 1 issued a notice to Karti asking him to vacate the Jor Bagh house in 10 days. The house, 115-A, Block 172, Jor Bagh, was attached by the agency on October 10, 2018, claiming that it was ‘acquired from proceeds of crime’ involving the INX media case. The attachment order was confirmed by the PMLA adjudicating authority this March.
The PMLA Appellate Tribunal headed by retired justice Manmohan Singh in a recent order has, however, directed ED to maintain “status quo” on the property. In its order dated September 3, the appellate tribunal held “there is no evidence to show that the said property was acquired from proceeds of crime. There is also no evidence that the appellant (Karti Chidambaram) is likely to dispose of property in order to frustrate the PMLA proceedings”. The Tribunal also noted ED’s delay in not filing its response for over five months, after its direction on April 23 to reply to Karti’s application within six weeks.
It, however, clarified that ED’s attachment of the property will continue till the appellate tribunal decides on Karti’s appeal. Karti’s lawyers recorded the assurance that pending appeal, Karti “shall not dispose” of the house. Chidambaram, currently in Tihar jail, in the INX media case, was arrested by CBI last month from the same house.
The Tribunal said, “no charge sheet has been filed by the CBI. No prosecution complaint under PMLA has been filed against the appellant (Karti)”. The order further reads that Karti is the owner of “only 50% undivided share” in the house which is also “enjoyed by wife and daughter” of Karti. And Karti’s father P Chidambaram and mother also reside in the same house.
An ED source told ET it was contemplating on challenging the order. The agency had strongly opposed the interim relief sought by Karti Chidambaram. Opposing the relief, ED’s lawyers had contended “once the confirmation order (of attached property) is passed, the next step is to take the possession under the provisions of sub-section 4 of Section 8 of the Act”. It was further averred that unless the strong case is made out, no interim order could be passed.