SC asks Ghaziabad court to defer hearing in money laundering case against journalist Rana Ayyub

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked a court in Ghaziabad to adjourn its proceedings against journalist Rana Ayyub in connection with a money laundering case, reported Live Law.

Ayuub had moved the top court against the summons issued by the Ghaziabad court, which had directed her to be present for the trial on January 27.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Krishna Murari and V Ramasubramanian stated that its direction should not be seen as a reflection of the merits of the case, and that the order was passed since it could not complete the hearing on Wednesday.

On October 13, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a prosecution complaint against Ayuub, based on a first information report filed against the journalist in September 2021, alleging that she illegally acquired funds from the public in the name of charity through fundraiser campaigns on an online crowdfunding platform Ketto.

The investigating agency had also accused Ayyub of receiving funds from abroad without registering them under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the division bench also asked Ayuub why she moved the Supreme Court and bypassed the High Court, reported Live Law.

Senior advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Ayuub, told the court that the agency should have filed the prosecution complaint in Mumbai, where the offence is alleged to have taken place.

She also added that there is a threat to Ayyub’s life and liberty if she is forced to appear in a Ghaziabad court.

“The petitioner’s [Ayuub’s] liberty is at stake here,” Grover said, according to Live Law. “The Hindu IT cell has tweeted, send her to Ghaziabad jail for 7 days and ‘hum dekh lenge’ [we will see the rest]. Can ED be allowed to drag her to any court in the country, especially where her safety would be jeopardised?”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate, opposed the plea and argued that Ayyub could seek other remedies.

“Every citizen is equal in the eyes of law,” Mehta said. “File anticipatory bail application.”

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