A tribunal here on Tuesday ordered a status quo vis-a-vis Enforcement Directorate (ED) action against properties of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, asking why the agency was not acting against self-styled spiritual leader Asaram Bapu.
Justice Manmohan Singh, who heads the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), pointed out to the ED counsel that there are many ‘gurus’ or ‘babas’ facing criminal cases in India and asked why no action was forthcoming against Asaram, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and others vis-a-vis property attachment.
ED counsel Nitesh Rana replied that investigations against other spiritual leaders was on.
The tribunal then ordered status quo, which will stop the ED from taking control of a school in Chennai and a commercial property in Mumbai till further orders.
The tribunal listed the matter for hearing on March 13.
The ED has already attached the assets/properties in the form of mutual funds, real estate and bank accounts totalling Rs 17.45 crore of the Islamic Research Foundation led by Naik.
Naik, in his appeal, said he was not even served notices before the properties were attached and that the charge sheet against him made out no such offence that warranted confiscation of his properties.
The central government had banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation for five years. Naik is accused of spreading hatred through his speeches, funding terror groups and laundering money. The National Investigation Authority last year registered a criminal case against him.