The Madras High Court today suspended the one-year jail term awarded to the president of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TNMMK) M H Jawahirulla in a 20-year-old FCRA violation case after he surrendered in the trial court. Justice N Sathish Kumar passed the interim order on a petition by Jawahirulla challenging the recent order of a CBI court confirming his conviction by an additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) in September 2004. Earlier in the day when the petition came up for hearing, the judge directed Jawahirulla to surrender before the ACMM’s court. The counsel for Jawahirulla later conveyed that his client has complied with the judge’s order and surrendered, following which Justice Kumar suspended the sentence. He also directed Jawahirulla to appear before the trial court judge once every month on the first working day till further orders. The high court had on June 21 exempted Jawahirulla from surrendering in the case till yesterday on the grounds that he was observing Ramzan fast.
The ACMM’s court had sentenced the TNMMK leader and four others to a one-year rigorous imprisonment for violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act (FCRA), 1976 by allegedly receiving Rs 1.54 crore foreign contribution without getting prior permission from the Reserve Bank of India. The sentence was confirmed by the additional sessions judge for CBI cases recently, following which Jawahirulla moved the high court. The prosecution case was that Jawahirullah and four others had between December 15, 1997 and June 20, 2000 formed an association without registering it with the Union government, to accept foreign funds as a contribution. On December 15, 1997, they had opened an account in the Bank of India branch here in the name of Coimbatore Muslim Relief Fund (CMRF) and in pursuance of it, received a foreign contribution of Rs 1.54 crore without prior RBI permission.
A case was registered by the CBI against Jawahirulla and two other office bearers of the TNMMK, besides two others of the CMRF under various sections of IPC besides under the FCRA. All the five were sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 each. In his petition, Jawahirullah submitted that the trial court and the appellate court had failed to note that the prosecution had not produced any evidence to prove he had entered into a criminal conspiracy with the others in furtherance of a criminal offence. The FCRA only prohibits receiving donation or contribution from a foreigner and not from persons who have gone abroad from India, he claimed. He said both the trial court and the appellate court had failed to note that the CMRF was not a unit of the TNMMK. Hence, he sought quashing of the sentence.