The Delhi High Court has stayed the proceedings in furtherance of the order of attachment of assets worth Rs. 23 crore belonging to businessman Mr. V. M. Radhakrishnan (Chakku Radhakrishnan).
The assets were attached in connection with the Malabar Cements corruption case. The Enforcement Directorate Officials (ED) had invoked provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering (PML) Act, 2002 and had served notices on 11 properties that include several hotels in Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Kozhikode.
Mr. Radhakrishnan has now challenged the competence of the adjudicating authority that had directed such attachment on the ground of coram non judice. He had contended that while the law requires the authority to consist of a Chairman and two other Members, a single member was conducting the proceedings under Section 8 of the Act. This, he submits, is "impermissible".
Section 8 of the Act provides an elaborate procedure for adjudication of a complaint against provisional attachment of properties for a period not exceeding 180 days from the date of the order.
Taking note of such submissions, the Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar ordered, "In view thereof, it is directed that further proceedings pursuant to the impugned order of the provisional attachment dated 25th September, 2017 including the proceedings under Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 for confirmation of the provisional attachment shall remain stayed."
It, however, clarified that the attachment of properties in question would continue.
Malabar Cements Corruption Case
The case concerns irregularities in the supply of fly ash to the Malabar Cements Ltd (MCL). ARK Woods and Metals Ltd., promoted by Mr. Radhakrishnan, had entered into a contract with MCL, undertaking supply of fly ash for a period of 9 years.
Soon after, MCL had chosen to discontinue the purchase owing to the inferior quality of fly ash supplied to them. It had also withheld the bank guarantee of Rs. 50 lakh. ARK Woods and Metals Ltd. had, however, managed to withdraw the bank guarantee amount along with interest after 4 years.
It has been alleged that in the process, MCL had incurred a loss of Rs. 52.5 lakh, after the accused officials had allegedly connived with ARK Woods and Metals Ltd. to release the amount.