The Delhi High Court, last week, dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by hawala operator and meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Mr. Qureshi had been arrested on 25 August and sent to ED custody by the Trial Court the next day. He is being investigated for sending money through hawala channels to Dubai, London and various destinations in Europe.
The ED has relied on Income Tax Records to allege that he took huge amounts money from people, in lieu of getting them undue favors from public servants. In the chargesheet, the ED has also alleged that he extorted money from people on behalf of former CBI Directors A.P. Singh and Ranjit Sinha. Further, witnesses have reportedly confirmed that they had delivered money for him and his associates.
Mr. Qureshi had now challenged his arrest as well as the Trial Court order, contending that he was not adequately informed about the grounds on which he was arrested, in violation of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India. He had further alleged that the Special CBI Judge had allowed the remand application "mechanically and without application of mind".
The ED, on the other hand, had submitted that the remand application contained sufficient particulars of the case made out against Mr. Qureshi and that he was well informed of the grounds by serving a copy on him as well as his counsel.
These contentions were supported by the Centre and were accepted by the Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice P.S. Teji, which ruled, "Thus, we agree with Mr. Mahajan that, firstly, there was no illegality in the initial arrest of the petitioner. There was sufficient compliance of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India, as the petitioner stood informed of the grounds of his arrest when he was permitted to read the same. He was also informed of the same vide the remand application under Section 167 Cr PC read with Section 65 of the PMLA moved on 26.08.2017.
We also agree with the submission of Mr. Mahajan that a writ of habeas corpus does not lie in the facts of the present case, since the petitioner was placed initially in ED custody remand, and thereafter in judicial custody by orders passed by a competent court with due application of mind. For all the aforesaid reasons, we find no merit in the present writ petition and, accordingly, we dismiss the same."