Delhi HC Reserves Order in TMC Leader Mahua Moitra's Plea Against ED's Media Leaks in FEMA Case

Read Time: 06 minutes


The TMC leader has sought directions to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to refrain from leaking sensitive and unverified information to the media in relation to the agency’s investigation against her for alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act, 1999 (FEMA)

The Delhi High Court on Thursday 'reserved order' in Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra's plea seeking direction to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to desist from divulging sensitive and unverified information to the media regarding the agency's investigation into her alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act, 1999 (FEMA).

The bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad said, "Heard you. Orders Tomorrow".

During the hearing, Senior advocate Rebecca John appeared for Moitra. The senior advocate for Moitra submitted, "I was summoned for the first time by the summons dated Feb 14, 2024. It was received at a Calcutta residence that is unoccupied by me. The news article begins to say even before the summons reached me."

The judge said, "It is news, is it not? You're a personality, you're a public person. In any case, it's only a factual assertion." He also inquired, "How does the press know that your matter is coming up in the High Court?"

"I am being hounded. They've asked me for a lot of material; tomorrow, if I submit the material, is it also going to go to the press?", John argued. She added, "My prayer is limited , it is not about an agency's right to inquire or investigate. That's absolute. I am not against the ED's right to investigate. I am saying I will submit to their jurisdiction. It is about the information being leaked prior to being communicated to me, and if such information is not the result of press releases, then what the ED is doing is drip-feeding confidential information."

The counsel for the ED informed the court that there has been "no leak" and no press release has been issued by them. 

Taking note of the submissions, the court reserved the order. The order will be pronounced tomorrow, i.e. February 23. 

Moitra has named 19 media outlets as parties to her case, requesting the Court to restrain them from disseminating any "unverified, unconfirmed, false, derogatory content" pertaining to her in connection with the ongoing proceedings. She also seeks to ensure that all news reporting aligns with official press releases issued by the ED.

Moitra's writ petition alleges that the ED leaked information to the media regarding her summons even before she received them. Furthermore, it claims that the ED disclosed details of allegations against her and her request for additional time to appear before the agency.

The plea contends that such unauthorized leaks compromise the investigation process and violate Moitra's rights, including privacy and dignity, as well as her right to a fair investigation.

According to news reports the ED summoned Moitra last week, directing her to appear before the agency on February 19 at its headquarters in Delhi, along with documents related to foreign investments. Additionally, news sources suggest that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is conducting a preliminary inquiry into allegations against her based on a referral from the Lokpal.

Case Title: Mahua Moitra v. ED & Ors.