HC quashes ED's PMLA case on Mantena

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court has made findings that mere suspicion, gossip or rumours cannot be grounds in order to bring the offence under the PML Act (Prevention of Money Laundering Act).

Justice M. Laxman made it clear to this effect while quashing a PMLA case registered against Manthena Srinivasa Raju, on whom, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had booked him and his staff, for allegedly conspiring with the Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation Limited to tamper e-tender process and bag big-ticket contracts worth Rs 3,000 crore.

Citing provisions of the PML Act, the judge said that to prosecute any person for offence of money-laundering there must exist the proceeds of the crime and further the involvement in any process or activity.

In the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate had charged that the firm belongs to Manthena Raju and that he was involved in tampering the e-tender for total amount of Rs 1,769 crore of MP Water Corporation and the price bids of the firms attached to Manthena group were changed. Similarly, various other tenders of different government departments were also tampered with and the price bids of specific applicant companies were changed. As a result, those companies became lowest bidders and their tenders were accepted, thereby such companies have got undue benefit.

The Enforcement Directorate probed into e-tenders of Madhya Pradesh government from 2016 onwards and suspected generation of crime proceeds of Rs 80,000 crore. On the basis of the said material, the present ECIR was registered for the offence under Section 3 read with Section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The ED had also arrested Manthena Raju in 2021 and he was granted bail in 2023.

Later, Raju filed the petition before the High Court to get the case against him quashed, contending that the case was registered on mere suspicion.

Justice Laxman has ordered to quash the PMLA case against Manthena Srinivasa Raju.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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