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Delhi HC stays attachment proceedings of Virbhadra children’s properties

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) In an relief to son and daughter of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed “all further proceedings” in connection with provisional attachment of their properties by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, however, said the already attached properties of Singh’s daughter Aparajita Kumari and son Vikramaditya Singh, will remain attached.

“We consider it appropriate to stay all further proceedings pursuant to the impugned order of provisional attachment so far as the petitioners herein are concerned,” the bench said in an interim order adding: “However, the impugned attachment shall continue”.

The high court order will mean that the ED cannot take further proceeding in a complaint filed with the adjudicating authority in connection with the March 23 provisional attachment order (PAO).

Senior advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for Aparajita and Vikramaditya, had said the ED had attached movable assets without their names being involved in the money laundering case.

The lawyer told the court that the directorate attached movable assets worth Rs.15.85 lakh of Aparajita and Rs.62.8 lakh of Vikramaditya.

Their petition submitted that the proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were “bad in law” because the case information report did not mention any money laundering charges, and sought a stay on and quashing of the ED’s March 23 order.

The ED had opposed the plea saying it was “premature” as the agency had filed a complaint before its adjudicating authority, which would take a call on the matter.

It had said that the provisional attachment order remains in force for 180 days, during which the petitioners could use the attached properties but cannot sell these or create third party rights.

“All attached properties have been found to be prima facie involved in the offence of money laundering,” it had told the court.

The ED registered a case under the PMLA at its New Delhi office in November 2015 against Virbhadra Singh and others, including his wife Pratibha Singh.

The petition had also challenged the recently amended second proviso of section 5(1) of the PMLA “which provides that any property of any person may be attached if ED officer concerned has reasons to believe, on the basis of material in his possession, that if such property allegedly involved in money-laundering is not attached immediately, it is likely to frustrate any proceeding under the act”.

The plea sought that this proviso of the PMLA be declared unconstitutional, claiming it was contradictory to the scheme of the act and violated the constitution.

The court posted the matter for July 18 for further hearing.

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