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“No coercive action”: SC to ED in money laundering matter related to Chhattisgarh liquor irregularities case

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New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Enforcement Directorate not to take coercive steps against the petitioners including Anil and Yash Tuteja in money laundering matter related to Chhattisgarh liquor irregularities case.

A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the interim directions while hearing a batch of petitions. One plea was filed by IAS Anil Tuteja and his son Yash Tuteja through advocate-on-record Malk Manish Bhat.

Yash Tuteja has challenged the vires of Section 50 and Section 63 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“PMLA”) and said that the challenge is primarily based upon the premise that the provisions of the PMLA which allow Officers of the Directorate of Enforcement to summon any person to record his statement under Section 50 of the PMLA and requiring that person to speak the truth in such statements is violative of Article 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution of India.

The petition has sought to quash the summons issued to the Anil Tuteja under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 by the ED.

Another plea was filed by Karishma and Anwar Dhebar through advocate on record Malak Manish Bhatt. One of the petitioner Siddharth Singhania has approached the court through advocate Aljo K Joseph.

ED is conducting an investigation into the liquor scam which ran between 2019 to 2022 in which corruption was done in multiple ways. The bribe was collected from the distillers per each case of liquor procured from them by the CSMCL, they said.

ED investigation has revealed that Arun Pati Tripathi through his direct actions at the insistence of Anwar Dhebar, corrupted the entire liquor system of Chhattisgarh to maximize corruption in the department. He made policy changes in conspiracy with his other colleagues and gave tenders to associates of Anwar Dhebar so that maximum benefits could be taken.

Despite being a senior ITS Officer and MD of CSMCL, he went against the ethos of the functioning of any State Excise Department and used the State-run shops to sell unaccounted kacha liquor, ED has alleged.

ED alleged that his complicit actions resulted in massive losses to the State Exchequer and filled the pockets of the beneficiaries of the Liquor Syndicate with more than Rs 2000 Crore in illegal proceeds of crime. He also received a substantial share in this loot.

Thus, the very objective of CSMCL to increase the State’s revenue & to provide quality controlled liquor to citizens was violated by him for his personal illegal gains, read the official statement.

ED has conducted consequential search operations at locations in Raipur, Bhilai and Mumbai and the searches have resulted in the discovery of 53 acres of land in Naya Raipur having a book value of Rs 21.60 crore acquired by Anwar Dhebar by using proceeds of crime in the name of a JV.

This property was purchased through a maze of transactions in the name of an associate by routing proceeds of crime acquired from FL-10A licensee. During recent search proceedings, ED has seized cash worth Rs 20 lacs and multiple incriminating documents, mentioned the official statement.

In searches in Mumbai, unaccounted investments worth around Rs 1 Crore, with a Share trading firm in the name of Arvind Singh and Pinki Singh w/o Arvind Singh were found and the same have been frozen under PMLA.

Earlier, ED had frozen Fixed Deposits worth Rs 27.5 Crore from Trilok Singh Dhillon. Earlier, ED had seized jewellery worth Rs 28 Crore from the house of a Country Liquor Distiller.

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