Don’t harass Tamil Nadu collectors, SC directs ED

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Enforcement Directorate not to “unnecessarily harass” the collectors of five Tamil Nadu districts after the state complained about the officials being made to sit at the central agency’s offices till 8:30 p.m. in connection with a money launder probe related alleged illegal sand mining.

The apex court had on April 2 pulled up the five district collectors for not appearing physically before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) despite orders and directed them to present themselves before the agency personally on April 25.

During the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state, told a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal that the district collectors had appeared before the ED.
The ED’s counsel said they had appeared before the ED but so far no details or documents have been submitted to the central anti-money laundering agency.

Sibal countered the ED’s claim and said whatever the probe agency had asked for through the summons has been furnished.

“My instructions are that no details or documents have been submitted in furtherance of their (the officials’) undertaking,” the ED’s counsel said, adding, “we can file an affidavit to this effect”.

The bench told the ED’s counsel to specify the documents which have not been supplied by the district collectors yet.

“They (district collectors) came at 11 O’clock. They made them sit there till 8:30 in the evening,” Sibal said.

“You can’t do this,” the bench told the ED’s counsel.

When the lawyer said he will have to find out about this, the bench observed “Don’t harass them unnecessarily.” The apex court asked the ED to file a report stating exactly which documents it had sought through the summons that have not been produced by these officers.