Delhi HC reserves order on ex-AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s plea against framing of charges in money-laundering case

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved orders on former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain’s plea challenging charges framed against him by a trial court in a money laundering case in connection with the 2020 North East Delhi riots.

A single judge bench of Justice Anu Malhotra, after hearing both parties, asked them to file their written submissions along with judgments being relied upon. “Matter reserved for orders,” Justice Malhotra said.

Tahir moved the high court challenging a November 5 order of Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, who framed charges against him under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, punishable under Section 4 of the Act.

The trial court, after perusing the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) complaint, witness statements and accompanying documents, said, “It emerges, prima facie, that accused Tahir Hussain, acting in conspiracy, engaged in money laundering.”

“Tahir Hussain, in a conspiracy to fraudulently withdraw money from accounts of certain companies owned or controlled by him through bogus and malafide transactions… with him being the beneficiary and with intent putting it to use towards riots, then accused Tahir Hussain would be set to be deriving or obtaining property as a result of criminal activity associated with/relatable to scheduled offence as the proceeds of crime and will be guilty of money laundering,” the order read.

The Delhi Police had filed three FIRs against Tahir pertaining to his involvement in the 2020 riots in northeast Delhi and the money laundering case was registered based on these FIRs.

Zoheb Hussain, the advocate appearing for the ED, argued before the high court that there was a criminal conspiracy for funding the 2020 Delhi riots and around Rs 1.5 crore was debited from the accounts of certain companies owned and controlled by Tahir. Fake bills were prepared and cash was later given to various people to commit the offences and Tahir was part of it, Zoheb said.

Tahir’s counsel Navin Malhotra argued that no property of his client has been seized by the central agency to justify the framing of charges. “No proceeds of the crime have been used to contribute to fund the riots. At best the allegations against my client constitute a violation of GST Act,” he said.

Malhotra further said that earning money out of scheduled offences is a requirement under PMLA and that this matter was not covered under the provisions of the Act.

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