Covid-19 donation: Punjab and Haryana high court no to dera plea to unfreeze account

Covid-19 donation: Punjab and Haryana high court no to dera plea to unfreeze account

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court has refused to entertain a plea filed by Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), headed by rape and murder convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim, to unfreeze its accounts so that it can donate Rs 4 crore to the relief fund to battle Covid-19 pandemic. The accounts of the dera were frozen on the directions of the high court after the incidents of violence erupted at Panchkula following the conviction of Gurmeet in rape cases in August 2017.
As the main cases related to Dera violence is being heard by a full bench comprising three judges of the HC, the court administration refused to hear dera’s plea at this juncture. The hearing of cases in the HC is restrictive these days due to the lockdown.
In an application submitted to the HC for hearing, the dera has pleaded for grant of permission to release Rs 2 crore for donation to ‘PM Cares Fund’, Rs 1 crore to ‘Haryana Covid Relief Fund’ and Rs 1 crore to ‘Punjab CM Relief Fund Covid-19’ against different cheque numbers out of its accounts in Oriental Bank Of Commerce Branch at Sirsa with the signatures of its authorised signatory Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
“The country is presently facing unprecedented and emergent situation because of Covid-19 pandemic. The need of the hour is greater than any other time and every citizen is coming and should come forward to help fight the menace in whatever way he can. With this aim, to contribute in this fight against Covid-19, dera intends to make donations to the relief funds of central as well as state governments. These funds are to be utilised for buying PPE kits, ventilators and other emergency things,” says the petition settled by senior advocate Vinod Ghai.
The HC, however, has not entertained the plea because it can be heard only by a full bench of the HC, which is impossible under present conditions. The bank accounts of the dera were ordered to be frozen by the Punjab and Haryana high court in August 2017. On September 27, 2017, the HC had ordered the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the income tax department to probe the allegations regarding money laundering and unaccounted money in the functioning of the Dera Sacha Sauda Sirsa.
The matter is pending before the HC in the wake of an ongoing petition filed by advocate Ravinder Singh Dhull. In this case, HC has issued several directions regarding maintenance of law and order situation in the states of Punjab and Haryana and to probe alleged irregularities in the functioning of the dera. The HC is also hearing the case to determine the responsibility of dera to pay damages caused on account of August 2017 violence.

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