The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to create an atmosphere of fear when the Chhattisgarh government was notified that several officials of the state excise department have complained of threats and to implicate Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in irregularities in the drink case.
The comments of a Judges Bench SK Kaul and A Amanullah came while hearing an application filed by the Chhattisgarh government to be declared a party in the pending petitions.
The Chhattisgarh government has applied for implementation through VMZ Chambers to allow the state to be summoned as a party respondent.
The Chhattisgarh government has alleged that several officials from the state excise department have accused the Enforcement Directorate of threatening them and their relatives with arrest and “trying to implicate the CM”.
Speaking to the top court, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared before the Chhattisgarh government, said: “The Enforcement Directorate is on a rampage and is threatening excise officers.”
He further called it a shocking turn of events.
However, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representative of the Enforcement Directorate, refuted the allegations, saying, “The Investigation Bureau is conducting an investigation into the irregularities in the liquor.”
The court asked the Enforcement Directorate not to create an atmosphere of fear among the excise officer and noted that such behavior would make a bona fide case suspect.
“The Government of Chhattisgarh has applied for implementation of the petitions filed by some individuals challenging the investigation of the Enforcement Directorate against them. was corrupted in multiple ways. Bribes were collected from the distillers for every case of liquor purchased from them by the CSMCL,” they said.
Enforcement Directorate investigation revealed that through his direct actions at Anwar Dhebar’s insistence, Arun Pati Tripathi has corrupted the whole liquor system of Chhattisgarh to maximize corruption in the department.
He made policy changes in conspiracy with his other colleagues and made tenders to employees of Anwar Dhebar for maximum benefit.
Despite being a senior ITS officer and MD of CSMCL, he went against the ethos of the functioning of every state excise department and used the state-run stores to sell unknown kacha liquor.
His accomplice actions resulted in huge losses to the treasury and filled the pockets of the Liquor Syndicate beneficiaries with over Rs 2000 Crore in illicit proceeds of crime.
He also received a significant share of this loot.
“So the very purpose of CSMCL to increase the revenue of the state and to provide quality controlled liquor to citizens was violated by him because of his personal illegal profits,” the official statement read.
The Enforcement Directorate subsequently conducted searches at sites in Raipur, Bhilai and Mumbai and the searches resulted in the discovery of 53 acres of land in Naya Raipur with a book value of Rs 21.60 crore acquired by Anwar Dhebar 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 crimes obtained from the FL-10A licensee. During recent searches, the Enforcement Directorate recovered cash worth Rs 20 lacs and several incriminating documents seized,” the official statement said.
Searches in Mumbai found misguided investments worth about Rs 1 Crore, with a stock trading company in the name of Arvind Singh and Pinki Singh without Arvind Singh and the same have been frozen under PMLA.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had frozen fixed deposits worth Rs 27.5 Crore of Trilok Singh Dhillon. Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had seized jewelery worth Rs 28 Crore from the home of a Country Liquor Distiller.
Chhattisgarh filed a petition to the Supreme Court last month challenging the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Money Laundering Prevention Act (PMLA) and alleged misuse of investigative agencies against the non-BJP government in the state.
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