Tamil Nadu

HC stays money laundering case booked by ED against Fisheries Minister

The Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed a money laundering case registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Fisheries Minister Anitha R. Radhakrishnan in December 2020 on the basis of a disproportionate assets case booked by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in 2006.

Fourth Division Bench of Justices Paresh Upadhyay and A.D. Jagadish Chandira granted the interim stay of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) till July 14 since advocate N. Ramesh, representing the ED, sought time to file a detailed counter affidavit to the quash petition preferred by the Minister.

Senior counsel Siddharth Agarwal argued that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002 could not be pressed into service in the present case as it had come into force only on July 1, 2005, whereas the check period in the disproportionate assets case was between May 14, 2001, and March 31, 2006.

In an affidavit filed through his counsel on record, R.D. Ashok Kumar, the Minister said the DVAC had in 2006 accused him of having amassed ₹2.68 crore, disproportionate to his known sources of income, between 2001 and 2006 when he was Minister for Housing and Urban Development in the AIADMK regime.

His family members were also included in the case and it was now pending before the Thoothukudi Principal District and Sessions Court. Based on that predicate offence, the ED registered an ECIR on December 22, 2020 on the premise that the offences alleged in the DVAC FIR were scheduled offences under the PMLA.

However, the ED sleuths had failed to give attention to the fact that Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was made a part of the scheduled offences under PMLA only in June 2009 and it was not a scheduled offence when the latter Act came into force in July 2005.

“Therefore, the PMLA being a penal statue, cannot operate retrospectively since that would be in violation of Article 20 (1) ( no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence) of the Constitution,” the Minister contended.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 10:44:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-stays-money-laundering-case-booked-by-ed-against-fisheries-minister/article65582656.ece