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 ED Officers Are Not Police Officers : Calcutta High Court While Upholding Protection To Thailand National

Vidhrbha News Expres 

News Agency / New Delhi : The Calcutta High Court recently held that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers are not police officers and their probe is only an inquiry and not an investigation [Directorate of Enforcement v. Menka Gambhir].

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Ananya Bandyopadhyay refused to accept the contention that the single-judge had no jurisdiction to protect one Menka Gambhir from the summons issued to her by the Assistant Director of the ED as the case did not involve any kind of police inaction.

The judges in their order referred to the Supreme Courts verdict in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary wherein the top court upheld the validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The jurisdiction of Single-Judge has been questioned on the ground that the present matter falls under the category of police inaction, but such a plea cannot be accepted in view of the fact that Supreme Court in the matter of Vijay Madanlal Choudhary has settled that the process envisaged by Section 50 of the PMLA is in nature of inquiry against the proceeds of crime and is not investigation in strict sense of the term for initiating prosecution and the authorities under the PMLA are not police officers as such, the Bench observed.

The judges disposed of a petition filed by the ED challenging orders of a single-judge, who granted protection to Gambhir, a Thailand national, who was issued summoned by the assistant director of the ED.

While quashing the summons asking Gambhir to appear in Delhi, the single-judge had asked her to appear in the zonal office of the ED in Kolkata. It had also ordered the ED not to take any coercive action against her.

As per the facts of the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had in November 2020 lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against several persons in a case related to theft and illegal excavation of coal.

In its FIR, the CBI did not name Gambhir. Subsequently, the ED filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in which Gambhir was not named. However, the agency issued summons to her in July and August 2022 asking her to appear.

The Division Bench did not go into the various aspects of this case, as Gambhir had already appeared before the ED pursuant to the single-judge’s orders.

The Bench noted that the other aspects have become infructuous and academic, and therefore, disposed of the plea.

Additional Solicitor General Ashok Kumar Chakraborty along with Advocates Phiroze Edulji and Anamika Pandey appeared for the ED.

Senior Advocate Jishnu Saha along with Advocates Ayan Bhattacharjee, Soumen Mohanty, Piyush Kumar Ray and Kush Agarwal represented Gambhir.

Deputy Solicitor General Billwadal Bhattacharyya and Advocate Rajendra Banerjee represented the Central government.


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