SC seeks ED's response on Karti Chidambaram plea on attachment

ED had authorised the search even without any material in his possession against the petitioner.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate on a petition filed by Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram challenging the provisional attachment order dated 23-09-2017 attaching a sum of '90 lakhs and to quash the summons issued to him.

A Bench of justices Arun Mishra and Amitav Roy also sought the response on an application seeking to declare the searches conducted by the Enforcement Directorate in the offices of Karti Chidambaram at Chennai and Delhi as “vexatious and illegal” and without jurisdiction.

The petitioner submitted that after the CBI court discharged Dayanidhi Maran and others in the Aircel-Maxis case in February 2017, the FIR filed by the CBI in this case stood terminated. Hence there is no predicate /scheduled offence relating to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval to M/s Global Communications Holdings Services Ltd, Mauritius to invest in Aircel.

He said in the absence of a predicate/ schedule offence there are no proceeds of crime and hence the ED has no jurisdiction to investigate any offence of money laundering under Prevention of Money Laundering Act or to invoke power under Section 5 of PMLA and attach the property of the Petitioner. The ED has no jurisdiction to continue with the investigation on the aspect of FIPB approval. As a matter of law the ED has no power to investigate a scheduled offence. It is the exclusive domain of the CBI and hence the attachment order dated 23-09-2017 is without jurisdiction.

He said on January 13, the ED conducted raids in Chennai and Delhi and the search team did not find any material relevant to the alleged investigation being carried on by the ED. Hence a seizure memo was drawn stating that as a result of search nothing incriminating documents were recovered and seized. Thus it became apparent that the Assistant Director, ED had authorised the search even without any material in his possession against the petitioner.

Curiously, the search team took away ordinary wall paintings which were gifted to him on various occasions and a few bought several years ago for nominal prices were also seized despite protest from Mr. N.R.R Arun Natarajan, counsel for the Petitioner. Thus the search in the officer premises of the Applicant was also a vexatious search.

He pointed out that a similar search was carried out in December 2015 and hence the ED cannot search twice over, the same premises once under FEMA and another under PMLA in relation to the same Aircel Maxis case relating to the circumstances leading to the grant of FIPB approval to M/s. Global Communications Services Ltd. Mauritius. He prayed for quashing the charges and a declaration that the searches were vexatious and illegal. The Bench posted the matter for final hearing on March 8.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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