Mumbai, Mar 8, 9 (PTI) Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik yesterday urged the Bombay High Court to set aside his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate [ED] claiming it violated his fundamental right to life and liberty.
Malik’s counsel, senior advocate Amit Desai, told the high court that the National Investigation Agency [NIA] was trying to connect the minister with gangster Dawood Ibrahim and cases related to the fugitive, even though his client had nothing to do with them.
“My remand paper deals all with the Dawood gang even though I am not related to it. They (ED) have tried to suggest that on Feb 3, 2022, they had registered an FIR against Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. It goes into folklore around Dawood and into incidents going back to 30 years ago,” Desai said.
“They say they registered an ECIR [Enforcement Case Information Report] on February 14 this year, and two other FIRS [first information reports] of 2017 with which I (Malik) am not concerned. But they are trying to suggest that there is a predicate offence with which I am concerned,” Desai told court.
Desai also argued that provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act [PMLA] had been applied in the present case against Malik retrospectively.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the ED, told the high court that economic offences were continuing offences and the central agency was correct in imposing PMLA sections.
Besides, the issue of retrospective application of PMLA in cases of economic offences was also being considered by the Supreme Court, Singh said.
Desai, however, told court the ED had itself conceded in its affidavit that it was undecided on the issue of retrospective application of the law.
“They (ED) themselves are confused on the point whether the law is retrospectively applicable or not, then a person’s liberty cannot be taken away (till SC decides those questions),” Desai said.
During the hearings which continued earlier today, Malik appealed to the high court to pass an interim order providing for his release from custody.
“The police authorities, on fanciful grounds, cannot disgrace any disliked face under the cloud of his or her involvement in an offence of organised crime. This is my submission,” Desai said in the court.
He told a bench led by Justice P.B. Varale that the minister had brought the property in question (which is part of ED’s probe) in a bonafide transaction over two decades ago.
Malik cites violation of fundamental right to life and liberty
But, Malik was now suffering because the property’s original owner, Munira Plumber, had changed her mind about having granted the power of attorney for sale of the property, Desai told the court.
“Any date after his release we are willing to go for a full hearing of the matter, but kindly grant him interim relief. He has already spent 16 days in prison,” Malik’s counsel said.
Malik was arrested by the ED on February 23 in a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aides. He was on Monday sent to judicial custody.
According to the ED, Malik allegedly conspired to usurp Plumber’s ancestral property in Kurla area of the city. The said property has a present market value of around Rs. 300 crore, as per the probe agency.
“It was a bonafide sale transaction. But, now I must spend the next five years in jail because Munira says she didn’t give the power of attorney which has been registered 22 years later,” Desai told the court on behalf of Malik.
The HC will continue hearing the plea on Thursday.