Journalist Rana Ayyub, who petitioned the Delhi High Court for permission to travel abroad, will miss delivering her keynote address in person on gender-based online violence against journalists with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) at London. The Delhi High Court directed the Enforcement Directorate to file a status report on Monday.
On March 29, at the eleventh hour, Enforcement Directorate authorities prevented Ayyub from boarding her flight to London where she was scheduled to speak at ICFJ's event on Gender-Based Online Violence Against Women Journalists today. From London, Ayyub was scheduled to travel to Italy on April 6 where she was going to speak at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.
Though Ayyub has missed the London leg of her tour, if she wins her case in the Delhi High Court, she may still make it in time for the Italian leg of her tour.
ED is probing Ayyub in a case of alleged money laundering from charitable funds she collected for COVID relief. Ayyub has been accused of siphoning money and ED has attached her assets worth Rs 1.77 crore in connection with this case.
Roving and fishing inquiry against me: Rana Ayyub to Delhi High Court
Senior advocate Vrinda Grover told the Delhi High Court that last-minute summons was nothing but a long roving and fishing inquiry against Rana Ayyub. Mala fide was writ large when the ED authorities stopped the journalist from boarding her March 29 flight to London," Grover told Justice Chandra Dhari Singh. Ayyub was in regular touch with ED's Mumbai Zonal office and was cleared to travel. All relevant documents were also transferred to ED's Delhi office well ahead in time.
ED's Delhi office issued summons against Ayyub for further investigation in the ongoing money laundering matter against her at 1:46 pm on March 29 – after Ayyub cleared immigration and 15 minutes before she was supposed to board her flight.
Grover submitted that there was no summons pending against Ayyub at the time she was supposed to travel, and fresh summons against her was sent "post-haste" and as an "afterthought". All documents ED's Delhi office had asked for had already been supplied, Grover said. Only Ayyub's reply to ED was pending which she was supposed to submit by April 17—a week after she returned from Italy on April 11.
The idea is that if people are going to be critical of the state, will the state then not allow them to speak or collect awards? Actions against Ayyub are just a sham and an afterthought that has impinged on her fundamental right to travel," Grover added.
Updated On: 2022-04-01T14:31:45+05:30