The Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh, Bilaspur vide order dated 30.06.2020 denied interim relief to one Mr. Alok Shukla in connection with the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered against him for money laundering.
Alok Shukla, former IAS officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors in Nagrik Apurti Nigam was booked for offences under Sections 109, 120B, 409, 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. An FIR was thereby registered at the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Raipur for the same.
The Petitioner/Alok Shukla had allegedly illegally realised some amount from different rice millers through his Personal Assistant Girish Sharma and secretly kept that money with one Dr. Anand Dubey. During the course of investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, a sum of Rupees Twenty Lakhs was recovered and seized from his Personal Assistant Girish Sharma. Due to not having any prima facie evidence against the Petitioner, he was granted anticipatory bail by the Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh vide order dated 16.10.2019, on the condition of co-operating with the proceedings and investigation.
The present writ petition was filed by Alok Shukla challenging the vires of certain provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as per which he was issued summons by the Directorate of Enforcement and the investigation was transferred to New Delhi from Raipur.
The Petitioner made the following submissions thereby:
- Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is contrary to the right against self- incrimination enshrined under the Constitution;
- The provisions of Chapter III of the Money Laundering Act, 2002 dealing with attachment, adjudication and confiscation are unreasonable and void;
- Provisions of search & seizure under Section 17 and 18 of the Money Laundering Act, 2002 are arbitrary;
- Section 19 of the Money Laundering Act, 2002 enables the authorities to arrest a person even before forming a prima facie opinion about complicity of the accused;
- Section 24 of the Money Laundering Act, 2002 violates criminal law principle that accused is innocent until proven guilty.
The Petitioner further submitted that the transfer of the investigation from Raipur to New Delhi during the COVID-19 pandemic was an intentional move to harass him further.
In response to the Petitioner’s arguments, the Respondent in the present matter submitted that the Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh vide order dated 16.10.2019 had granted bail to the Petitioner only after specifically directing the Petitioner to co-operate with the proceedings/investigation, and that by filing the present Writ Petition, the Petitioner was only trying to stall the proceedings of the case.
The Respondent further submitted that the idea and understanding of the Petitioner as to scope of the provisions of the said Act was quite wrong and misconceived and that the summons was issued by virtue of the specific observation made by the Hon’ble High Court vide order dated 16.10.2019 and hence it was the duty of the Petitioner to abide by the same.
After taking note of both the parties, the division bench comprising of Chief Justice P. R. Ramachandra Menon and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu granted two weeks’ time to the Directorate of Enforcement to file a detailed reply but expressed its disinclination to grant any interim order for the time being.
The matter will now be heard after a period of two weeks i.e. on 18.07.2020.