Close on the heels of an embarrassment with quashing of its Red Corner Notice request by the Interpol, the Enforcement Directorate(ED) on Tuesday was pulled up by a judicial tribunal over its investigation against Islamic preacher and activist Dr Zakir Naik.
While restraining the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) from taking possession of attached immovable assets of Zakir Naik, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Tribunal laid bare certain discriminatory acts of ED. The Tribunal head Justice Manmohan Singh asked why ED took such action against Zakir Naik alone, and wondered if similar action was not necessary against Asaram Bappu. "I can name 10 babas who have properties worth more than Rs 10,000 each and they are facing criminal cases. Have you acted against even one of them? What have you done against Asaram Bapu?" the Tribunal asked the counsel for the ED.
Raising questions whether ED was being selective in acting against Dr Naik, the Tribunal's chairman observed that the agency seems to have done nothing in the last 10 years about confiscating properties of Asaram but looked to act a lot quicker in this case.
When the charge sheet against Zakir Naik do not have grave allegations, what was the need for taking possession of his assets, the judge asked ED's lawyer. The lawyer replied that Dr Naik had persuaded youth into provocative acts through his speeches, on which the Tribunal asked whether there was any proof that those youth had actually indulged in unlawful acts. He said ED was not able to produce evidence in the charge sheet that Zakir Naik had in his 2015 speech inspired the terrorist attack.
ED had in its own convenience ignored 99 % of his speech and highlighted one per cent. "Have you read the speeches attached to the charge-sheet? I have heard many speeches, and am not convinced that there is anything objectionable in them."