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Mahua Moitra's plea alleging media leak: Delhi High Court to pass order on February 23

Justice Subramonium Prasad orally remarked that as of now, there was nothing as the news report in question made factual assertions

PTI New Delhi Published 22.02.24, 06:38 PM
Mahua Moitra

Mahua Moitra File photo

The Delhi High Court said on Thursday it will pass an order on February 23 on TMC leader Mahua Moitra's plea against the alleged leak of "confidential" information to the media by the Enforcement Directorate in a probe against her under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The senior counsel appearing for the former MP claimed she was being "hounded", and information on issuance of summons to her by the agency was published by the media even before she received it.

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Justice Subramonium Prasad orally remarked that as of now, there was nothing as the news report in question made factual assertions.

"That is news, is it not? You are a public person. It is only a factual assertion...As of now, there is nothing," the judge remarked.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Moitra, contended that she was not against the right of the federal anti-money laundering agency to carry out any investigation but such media leaks were prejudicial to her.

"It is about information being leaked prior to it being communicated to me. If such information is not the result of press releases, ED is drip-feeding sensitive and confidential information," John contended.

"The news articles begin to state she has been summoned, FEMA violation. I have no idea...Summons were issued on February 20 for 26th. News items begin from (February) 19 at a time when summons have not been issued," she added.

The court directed that the petition be listed for pronouncement of order tomorrow.

The counsel for the ED said there was no release or "leakage" from its end.

Advocate Sidhant Kumar, appearing for a news organisation, said the petitioner was a public official facing probe for allegations that are in public domain, making it a matter of public debate.

He opposed the petition while contending that media has been reporting on the basis of "sources" for a very long time.

The ED has issued summons to Moitra in a case under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Transactions linked to a non-resident external (NRE) account are under the agency's scanner in the case apart from a few other foreign remittances and transfer of funds, sources said.

Moitra has sought a direction to restrain the ED from "leaking any information, including any confidential, sensitive, unverified/unconfirmed information, to the print / electronic media in relation to the ongoing investigation".

She has also sought a direction to restrain several media organisations from "leaking, publishing/ broadcasting of any information related to the ongoing investigation / proceedings in relation to the investigation being carried out by Respondent No. 1.. under which the FEMA Summons have been issued to the petitioner".

Earlier this month, the ED had issued summons to Moitra for February 19. After she failed to depose before the agency on that day, fresh summons were issued for February 26.

In her petition, Moitra has said the "leakages" to the media about confidential information on the investigation was causing a grave and prejudicial impact on her right to a free and fair investigation.

"Respondent No. 1 (ED) has acted against the procedure prescribed under the law as it has leaked confidential, half-baked, speculative / unconfirmed information to the media in relation to the ongoing proceedings / investigation under FEMA against the Petitioner. Respondent No. 1 has compromised with the ongoing investigation by leaking piecemeal, unverified information /clues on a daily and regular basis to (certain media organisations," it added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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