Delhi HC dismisses Mahua Moitra’s ‘leaking information’ plea against ED | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Delhi HC dismisses Mahua Moitra’s ‘leaking information’ plea against ED

Feb 23, 2024 05:19 PM IST

Delhi HC dismisses TMC leader Mahua Moitra's plea against ED leaking info to media in FEMA case. Court notes leakages pose challenges for public figures.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday dismissed Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra’s plea seeking to restrain Enforcement Directorate (ED) from leaking any confidential, sensitive or unconfirmed information to the print or electronic media in connection to a Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act (FEMA) contravention case, being probed by the agency, on February 23.

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December last year. (PTI)
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra was expelled from the Lok Sabha in December last year. (PTI)

“Dismissed,” a bench of justice Subramonium Prasad said while pronouncing the order.

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The TMC leader in her petition had argued that ED instead of undertaking a fair, transparent and ethical investigation into the alleged violations of the FEMA had wilfully and maliciously leaked the details of the FEMA summons and her preliminary response submitted to the agency.

“It appears that Respondent No. 1 (ED) intends to subject the Petitioner to a media-trial by leaking sensitive particulars, including salacious allegations, allegedly stemming from their ongoing investigation and thereby, not only prejudice the investigation into the matter, but also tarnish the Petitioner’s reputation in the public eye,” the plea read.

Moitra also sought to restrain 19 media houses from publishing and circulating any unverified, unconfirmed, false, derogatory content in relation to the pending investigation. She contended that such information leakage hampered the process of the investigation and also violated Moitra’s rights to privacy and dignity and her right to fair investigation.

“Respondent No. 1 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 Respondent No. 3 to 21,” her plea also read.

On Thursday, the TMC leader appearing through senior advocate Rebecca John, submitted that the probe agency was drip feeding confidential information regarding the case to the media.

Also Read: Cash-for-query case: CBI summons lawyer Dehadrai to join probe into case against Mahua Moitra

“I’m being hounded. They have asked me for a lot of material. Will that also go to the press? Either they have given a press release.. if they haven’t given, how do they know that I’m being summoned? It’s about info being leaked prior to it being communicated to me,” the senior counsel said on Moitra’s behalf.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry appearing through additional solicitor general Chetan Sharma submitted that the ministry had no answer regarding the sources through which the information was leaked.

The ED, appearing through its special counsel Zoheb Hussain and advocate Vivek Gurnani, submitted that the probe agency had neither issued any press release regarding the case nor had leaked any information. “ED has not given any press release & there has been no leakage, whatsoever. We are not aware as to what are the sources of the article,” he also said.

News agency ANI appearing through advocate Siddhant Kumar submitted that there was nothing prejudicial in the matter and media reports were based on sources adding that the TMC leader was a public official who was facing probe for allegations that were already in the public domain.

Officials familiar with the matter said ED registered a case under FEMA against her as it has information about certain foreign transactions including undisclosed ones which are being probed under FEMA.

To be sure, the court while reserving the orders on Thursday had remarked that though the news reports only made factual assertions, Moitra being a public person was however being asked to face two fronts, before the press and enforcement agencies.

“You (Mahua) are a public personality. It’s only a factual assertion. As of now, there is nothing. The only problem is that the information which is otherwise not available in public domain & the information which is under investigation by the agencies, how does that come to the press? Here is a case where actually this lady, I won’t say media trial but of a fact that a public person who is being asked to face on two fronts… one in press & one before the enforcement agencies..” justice Prasad remarked.

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