Delhi Riots: SC Refuses To Interfere With Framing of Money Laundering Charges Against Tahir Hussain

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the framing of charges against former AAP leader Tahir Hussain under anti-money laundering law in connection with the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

A bench headed by Justice V Ramasubramanian said at the stage of framing of charges, a court “cannot get into details”, which is to be seen at a later stage.

“The case is at the stage of framing of charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Therefore we do not see reasons to interfere at this stage. It is made clear that the (trial) court will follow the law laid down by this court,” said the bench also comprising Justice Pankaj Mithal.

The top court was hearing the ex-councillor’s appeal against the Delhi High Court order rejecting his petition which challenged the trial court order for framing charges against him under Sections 3 (offence of money laundering) and 4 (punishment for the offence of money laundering) of PMLA.

Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, representing the accused, assailed the high court decision on the ground that it only “extracted the complaint” and “relied on it simplicitor” without any independent analysis.

The senior counsel also said the offence, in the present case, is not that of money laundering but only a “GST offence”.

The court however opined that the trial court need not consider the “proof” while framing charges as it was not conducting a trial at that stage.

In its November 24, 2022 order, the high court had said there was no infirmity in the trial court order which said a prima facie case was made out against Hussain under PMLA.

It had noted the statements of witnesses “prima facie indicate the alleged complicity of the petitioner with persons to cause an illegal act to be done through illegal means”, which falls within the ambit of section 120A (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, a scheduled offence under PMLA.

The trial court, in its order passed on November 3, 2022, had said prima facie Hussain conspired to engage in money laundering and the proceeds generated from the crime were used for the riots.

The agency had claimed Hussain paid for engineering the riots and that there was a criminal conspiracy to fund the communal conflagration.

According to the ED complaint, Hussain fraudulently withdrew money from the bank accounts of companies owned or controlled by him through bogus entry operators on the strength of fake bills.

Hussain was the ultimate beneficiary of the laundered money and the funds obtained through criminal conspiracy were put to use during the riots in February 2020, the ED complaint alleged.

The Delhi Police have registered three FIRs against Hussain and others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code in connection with the riots.

Based on the FIRs, inquiries were initiated and the ED registered an ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report), the anti-money laundering probe agency’s versition of a first information report, on March 9, 2020.

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