Fertilizer scam: Delhi HC asks ED director to explain how grounds of arrest are conveyed

The case pertains to an alleged fertiliser scam linked to the IFFCO and India Potash Limited (IPL), in which the CBI had registered a corruption case in May

The Delhi High Court has asked the director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to explain how the grounds of arrest are informed to an arrested person and also the status of an Enforcement Case Information Report in an investigation carried out by the agency.

The High Court’s order came while hearing a plea by the ED challenging a trial court’s order directing it to supply a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) to RJD Rajya Sabha MP Amarendra Dhari Singh, arrested in a money laundering case related to an alleged fertilizer scam.

Justice Mukta Gupta issued notice and asked Singh to respond to the plea by the ED seeking to set aside the trial court’s July 15 order directing that the copy of the ECIR to which the agency proceeded with the inquiry or investigation.

“In the meantime, an affidavit of the Director, Enforcement Directorate will be filed on record indicating the status of the ECIR in an investigation carried on by the petitioner [ED] and whether the same is merely a number or records some substantive information therein for the petitioner to start the investigation thereon prior to filing of the complaint case,” the judge said.

The High Court said the affidavit will also indicate as to once a person is arrested how the grounds of arrest are informed to the arrested person in terms of the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.

Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing the ED, contended that there is no specific power with the special judge of the trial court under the CrPC to pass directions to the agency to supply the copy of the ECIR.

He said Mr. Singh has no locus standi to ask for the ECIR copy for the reason that the ED is bound to file a complaint case and till summons are issued to him, he cannot interfere in the proceedings or ask for any document.

The court raised a query that since Mr. Singh has already been arrested in the ECIR for the alleged offences under the PMLA, how he was informed of the grounds of arrest in writing.

To this, the ASG said that the grounds of arrest have been duly informed to Mr. Singh, however, the document in this regard could not be placed on record and contended that the grounds of arrest were shown to the trial court which perused it physically at the time of granting the remand order.

The 62-year-old Singh, a member of Parliament and a businessman, was arrested by the ED on June 2 under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Currently, he is under judicial custody.

The case pertains to an alleged fertilizer scam linked to the IFFCO and India Potash Limited (IPL), in which the CBI had registered a corruption case in May.

Mr. Singh is stated to be the senior vice-president of a firm involved in the case, identified as Jyoti Trading Corporation.

The plea said the complaint dates back to April 2013 and the CBI registered and FIR for the alleged offences of cheating, criminal conspiracy under the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act in May 2021.

Pursuant to the registration of the FIR, a search/raid was conducted at Mr. Singh’s residence and office premises on May 19 this year in which he and his employees duly cooperated.

On May 20, the ED also registered a case against him and between May 20 and June 2, when he was arrested, no summons were issued to him to join the investigation.

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