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FEMA probe: Delhi HC reserves order on Moitra’s plea against ED’s media leaks

FEMA probe: Delhi HC reserves order on Moitra’s plea against ED’s media leaks

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a plea by Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra, to restrain the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from leaking “confidential or unverified information” to the media in relation to the agency’s probe against her for an alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act, 1999 (FEMA).

Moitra has alleged that the ED has been leaking sensitive information to the media regarding the investigation. She has also named 19 media houses, urging the court to restrain them from publishing and circulating any “unverified, unconfirmed, false, derogatory content” in relation to the pending investigation against her.

Some of the media houses include ANI, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India, India Today, NDTV, The Hindu, The Print etc, reports Live Law. She had called for directions so that news reporting on the ED's case would be in tune with the official press releases that may be issued by the ED.

However, the central agency told the Court that it has not leaked any information to the media and that it does not know the sources of news articles published by the media houses in relation to the ongoing investigation.

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Senior Advocate Rebecca John who appeared for Mahua Moitra argued that information about the case was published by the media even before she received the summons, reports the Bar and Bench. She said that there had been a violation of Moitra's rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.

According to the media reports, the ED had issued summons to the TMC leader last week and asked her to appear before the agency's headquarters in Delhi on February 19 in connection with a probe into alleged FEMA violations. She was asked to appear with some documents related to some foreign investments, it was reported.

The media reports also claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) too is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations against her on a reference from the Lokpal, reports the Bar and Bench.

Moitra then moved a petition before the High Court alleging that the ED had leaked sensitive information to the media, including the details of the allegations against her and the fact that she had sought more time to appear before the agency.

The ED has acted against the procedure prescribed under the law by leaking “confidential, half-baked, speculative/unconfirmed information to the media in relation to the ongoing proceedings /investigation”, thereby compromising the investigation, the plea said, reports Bar and Bench.

“I was summoned. I have no difficulty in that. They have the right to summon me. I was summoned for the first time on February 14. That summon was received at the Calcutta residence which is unoccupied by me. Much before I start, news articles began to say that she has been summoned,” John said.

Moitra was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December last year after the Ethics Committee report recommended her expulsion from the Parliament in the 'cash-for-query' case.

She faced allegations of receiving cash in exchange for parliamentary queries on behalf of businessman Darshan Hiranandani, a charge she has denied despite admitting to sharing her Parliament login details with him. Moitra has also filed a defamation suit against individuals including BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, with a judgment on interim relief pending.

Also Read: Excise policy case: 7th summons issued by ED to Delhi CM

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TAGS:#Mahua MoitraEDIndia NewsCash-for-query rowFEMA probeDelhi HC order
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