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Supreme Court stays ED probe in Chhattisgarh liquor scam

"Supreme Court Issues Oral Remark During Chhattisgarh Liquor Irregularities Case Hearings"
 
 
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Latest Updates: "Supreme Court Temporarily Restrains Enforcement Directorate in Chhattisgarh Liquor Scam Money Laundering Case"

New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued an oral directive on Tuesday, instructing the Enforcement Directorate to temporarily suspend their money laundering investigation into the Chhattisgarh liquor irregularities case. The court's remark came while addressing multiple pleas related to the matter.

During the hearing, the apex court ordered the Enforcement Directorate not to take coercive actions against the petitioners, including Anil and Yash Tuteja, regarding money laundering allegations in connection with the Chhattisgarh liquor irregularities case. Additionally, the court emphasized that the probe agency must refrain from any actions in this regard.

The bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued these interim directions while considering a batch of petitions. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, among others, represented the petitioner side, while Additional Solicitor General SV Raju appeared for the Enforcement Directorate.

Previously, the petitioner's counsel stated that the alleged offenses under the Income Tax Act were yet to be recognized by the competent court.

One of the pleas was filed by IAS officer Anil Tuteja and his son Yash Tuteja, represented by advocate-on-record Malk Manish Bhat. Yash Tuteja contested the validity of Section 50 and Section 63 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 ("PMLA"), arguing that these provisions, which empower Officers of the Directorate of Enforcement to summon individuals to record their statements under Section 50 and compel them to speak the truth, violated Articles 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution of India.

The petition sought to quash the Enforcement Directorate's summons issued to Anil Tuteja under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Another plea was filed by Karishma and Anwar Dhebar, represented by advocate on record Malak Manish Bhatt. Siddharth Singhania, one of the petitioners, approached the court through advocate Aljo K Joseph.

The Enforcement Directorate is conducting an investigation into the liquor scam that occurred between 2019 and 2022, involving corruption through various means. Allegedly, bribes were collected from distillers for each case of liquor procured from them by the CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Ltd).

Enforcement Directorate's Probe Exposes Multimillion-Dollar Corruption in Chhattisgarh Liquor System

The Enforcement Directorate's investigation has uncovered a vast network of corruption in the Chhattisgarh liquor system, allegedly orchestrated by Arun Pati Tripathi, the senior ITS Officer and MD of CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Ltd). According to the allegations, Tripathi, at the behest of Anwar Dhebar, engaged in various corrupt practices to maximize corruption within the department.

The accused is said to have made policy changes in collaboration with colleagues and awarded tenders to Anwar Dhebar's associates to ensure substantial benefits for them. This conspiracy is believed to have resulted in significant financial losses for the State Exchequer, amounting to over ₹ 2000 Crore in illegal proceeds of crime. Tripathi himself is accused of receiving a substantial share in the illicit gains.

Enforcement Directorate's operations in Raipur, Bhilai, and Mumbai led to the discovery of a 53-acre property in Naya Raipur, valued at ₹ 21.60 crore, allegedly acquired by Anwar Dhebar through proceeds of crime and registered under a joint venture. Additionally, during the searches, cash amounting to ₹ 20 lacs and several incriminating documents were seized.

Further investigations in Mumbai revealed unaccounted investments of approximately ₹ 1 Crore linked to Arvind Singh and Pinki Singh (wife of Arvind Singh) through a share trading firm, which have been frozen under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In previous actions, Enforcement Directorate had frozen Fixed Deposits worth ₹ 27.5 Crore belonging to Trilok Singh Dhillon and seized jewelry worth ₹ 28 Crore from the residence of a Country Liquor Distiller.

The official statement emphasizes that Tripathi's actions not only violated the objective of CSMCL to increase state revenue and provide quality-controlled liquor to citizens but also involved the sale of unaccounted "kacha" liquor through state-run shops, compromising the integrity of the State Excise Department.