SC Decries Non-Appearance of Tamil Nadu District Collectors Before ED

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GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 3rd April. 
In a stern rebuke, the Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the failure of five district collectors of Tamil Nadu to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an ongoing money laundering probe related to alleged illegal sand mining, despite the court’s orders.

A bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal condemned the officials’ “cavalier approach,” stating it showed a lack of respect for the court, law, and the Constitution of India. The bench emphasized that failure to obey the court’s directives would lead to serious consequences for the officials.

The senior advocates representing the Tamil Nadu government, Kapil Sibal and Amit Anand Tiwari, argued that the officials were preoccupied with maintaining public order and overseeing the implementation of social security schemes, particularly amidst the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April 19.

However, the bench reiterated that the officials should have complied with the court’s orders and appeared before the probe agency, providing necessary explanations for their absence. Despite a review application filed against the court’s February 27 order directing the officials to appear before the ED, the bench emphasized the importance of respecting the summons issued by the investigation agency.

Addressing concerns raised by the officials’ legal representation, the bench referenced Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), highlighting the ED’s authority to summon any person deemed necessary for investigations.

The Supreme Court’s directive follows its decision on February 27, when it instructed the five district collectors to appear before the ED, overturning a stay granted by the Madras High Court on November 28, last year.

The high court’s order had halted the summons issued by the central probe agency, prompting the ED to appeal to the apex court, citing obstruction to its money laundering investigation.

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