Delhi HC issues notice to ED over Virbhadra Singh’s plea in money laundering case

Smrithi Suresh

The Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court

A Single Bench of Justice Manmohan Singh issued a stern warning to the Enforcement Directorate whilst stating that the ED cannot act as a “super investigator” and not share records with the court. The Bench was hearing a batch of cases filed by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others in an ongoing money laundering case.

In his plea, Singh has sought the reasons based on which a search and seizure was carried out by the ED pertaining to investigations under the money laundering case. He has also sought quashing of the April 19 order of the adjudicating authority and the May 12 decision of the appellate tribunal, both of which dismissed his pleas to provide the reasons behind search of documents. Singh’s plea had termed the reasons of the search as ‘illegal, arbitrary and liable to be quashed’.

Today when the case came up for hearing Advocate Akhil Sibal appeared for Singh and Advocate Sanjeev Narula appeared for the Respondent. Narula told the Bench that the need for inspecting of records did not ‘arise’ as Singh and the other petitioners had only assailed the ED’S move seeking permission to retain the seized documents for a period beyond 180 days.
Responding to this submission Justice Manmohan said that while the reasons of search and seizure ‘cannot be disclosed’ to the assessee for it could lead to disclosure of line of probe & sources, he further added that the Court would peruse the records only to see whether there existed “reasons to believe” for search and seizure. Commenting on the reluctance of ED to allow inspection of records Justice Manmohan added,
“I will satisfy my conscious to the hilt. If you do not want to share anything with the court then there is something amiss. You cannot act as if you are a super investigator. I will issue notice and you can file reply to all issues raised in the plea.”
Once ED’s counsel (Narula) agreed to place the relevant documents before the Bench within a week, the Bench also stated that the reasons will not be revealed to the Petitioners. The case will now be heard on May 31.
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