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Supreme Court Pulls Up ED For Attaching Properties Despite Having Notice Of Hearing

Mehal Jain
2 April 2022 5:27 AM GMT
Supreme Court Pulls Up ED For Attaching Properties Despite Having Notice Of Hearing
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In connection with a PMLA case where the "basic question involved is whether the provisional attachment order of 3.6.2021 ceases to be in force on the expiry of 180 days", the Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the ED for proceeding to seal the properties in question and taking symbolic possession despite the Court's March 28 order permitting the service of the advance copy of the petition on...

In connection with a PMLA case where the "basic question involved is whether the provisional attachment order of 3.6.2021 ceases to be in force on the expiry of 180 days", the Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the ED for proceeding to seal the properties in question and taking symbolic possession despite the Court's March 28 order permitting the service of the advance copy of the petition on the central agency and listing the matter for hearing on April 1.

The bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and A. S. Oka was hearing an SLP against the March 3 order of the Bombay High Court allowing the Enforcement Directorate to attach the properties of the petitioners. "We will temporarily stay the order of possession in respect of the property at Serial no. 8 (residential apartment of the petitioners)...So far as the other properties are concerned, the Petitioners must deliver possession, though they are free to do so on a without prejudice basis. The attachment levied by the ED in respect of all 11 properties including the property at Sr No 8 will continue until further orders of this Court or of the appellate authority (yet to be appointed)", the High court had ordered.
The bench headed by Justice Khanwilkar on March 28 passed the following order on the SLP- "The petitioners are permitted to serve advance copy of petition on the Standing Counsel for the Central Agency. List this matter on 01.04.2022"
On Friday, the bench was informed by the advocate for the petitioners that the copy of petition was served on the central agency on March 30 pursuant to the March 28 order, but on March 31, just a day later, the ED embarked on the endeavour to seal the properties and obtain "notional possession" of the same. "On March 28, when we had prayed for protection, Your Lordships had listed the matter for today and said that nothing is going to happen between then and now. But just a day after we served the petition on them, yesterday they have proceeded to do this even though we are before the Supreme Court", he urged.
When the counsel appearing for the ED told the bench that no instructions have been received in the instant matter, Justice Khanwilkar observed, "You would not be getting any instructions because the officers are bent on doing this!"
"Their submission is that the provisional attachment order was of June, 2021 and now the statutory period of 180 days has expired. We had listed this matter for today! Even if the order (of March 28, Monday) was not communicated to you, the petition was served on you! How could you attach it? Take corrective action or otherwise we will proceed in contempt against the officers! Undo that mischief!", reprimanded Justice Khanwilkar.
The bench then proceeded to dictate the following order- "It has been brought to our notice that pursuant to the order dated 28.3.2022, the petitioners served the copy of the petition on the central agency on 30.3.2022. The order of 28.3.2022 clearly records that the matter was to be taken up on 1.4.2022. Despite that, the officials of the respondent proceeded to seal the properties in question and take symbolic possession on 31.3.2022. The basic question involved here is whether the provisional attachment order dated 3.6.2021 ceases to be in force on the expiry of 180 days. If the issue is answered in favour of the petitioners, no action could be taken by the respondent authority on the basis of that order. The respondent is directed to explain the position and take remedial measures and submit response before the next date of hearing i.e. April 8, 2022"
Case Title: Yogesh Narayanrao Deshmukh & Anr. v. Directorate Of Enforcement

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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