ED’s role is questioned by Congress, saying: ‘The Enforcement Directorate Has Become More Powerful Than The CBI’

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In a joint news conference, Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan, said that despite having a less than 5% success record, the Enforcement Directorate had grown stronger than the CBI. He goes on to add by saying: “The ED is creating drama in the country. And it has created terror. There should be a timely SC decision on the terror of Enforcement Directorate in the country. As you saw in Maharashtra, the ED is being used to collapse governments”.

So, it’s important to look at how the ED came into existence and how it works?

A multidisciplinary body called the Directorate of Enforcement is tasked with looking into cases of money laundering and regulatory infractions involving foreign exchange. The following Acts are among those that the Directorate is mandated by law to enforce:

1. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA):

It is a criminal statute that was passed to stop money laundering, to provide for the confiscation of property obtained from, involved in, or connected to money laundering, as well as for things related to or incidental to such activity. The ED’s job is to carry out investigations to identify assets acquired via the proceeds of crime, temporarily seize the assets, guarantee that offenders are brought to justice, and ensure that the Special court seizes the assets.

2. The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA):

Civil legislation was passed to update and consolidate the rules governing external commerce and payments and to support the orderly growth and upkeep of India’s foreign currency market. Enforcement Directorate has been entrusted with the duty of conducting investigations into alleged violations of foreign exchange rules and regulations, making decisions, and punishing individuals found guilty of breaking the law.

3. The (Fugitive Economic Offenders Act of 2018) FEOA: 

This law was created in an effort to prevent economic criminals from dodging Indian legal procedures by avoiding the reach of Indian courts. It is a statute that gives the Directorate the authority to seize the property of economic criminals who have fled India and are wanted for arrest and to turn it over to the Central Government.

4. The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1973 (FERA): 

The main responsibilities of the FERA, which was repealed, were to decide on Show Cause Notices issued under the repealed Act up until 31.5.2002 for alleged violations of the Act that could result in the penalties imposition and to pursue FERA-related legal actions in the relevant courts.

5. Sponsoring agency under COFEPOSA:

This Directorate is authorized to sponsor cases of preventive detention for FEMA violations under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange & Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA).

Organizational Structure:

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The allegation of Congress on the central government’s misuse of agencies is not new. So it is also necessary for us to focus on the changes through the legal lens. These include Prevention of Money-laundering (Restoration of Confiscated Property) Amendment Rules, 2019, which read on Manner for restoration of confiscated property.

According to this, the Special Court shall cause to be published a notice in two daily newspapers, one in English & one in the vernacular, having sufficient circulation in the area where the property is situated, imploring the claimants, who claim to have a legitimate interest in such property or part thereof, to submit & establish their claims within forty-five days of the date of passing the order of confiscation under subsection (5) section 8 of the Act in respect of the property.

The Special Court, as it sees appropriate, may order the restoration of property on a pro-rata basis in line with the share of loss experienced by each claimant where the confiscated property is not enough to cover the loss sustained by the claimants as a result of the offense of money-laundering. Since the date the notice cited in sub-rule (1) was published, no claimant may bring a request for the return of confiscated property to the Special Court after thirty days have passed; however, the Special Court may consider requests for a shorter period up to thirty days if it’s satisfied that the claimant was prevented for a good reason.

The changes read on Manner of restoration of property during the trial. When the property cited in sub-rule (1) is deficient in covering the loss incurred by the claimant as a result of the money-laundering offense, the Special Court may, as it sees fit, issue an order of restoration of property directing the Central Government, if necessary, to sell such property and distribute the proceeds in proportion to the share of loss incurred by each claimant, and may grant custody thereof to such claimant upon his execution of a bond. 

The Enforcement Directorate, one of the Government of India’s top financial investigation agencies, adheres strictly to the Constitution and Indian Laws and follows the advice of all Lawful Authorities. They make an effort to develop and uphold high standards for professionalism and reputation. These standards are essential to adherence to some Core Values, which include integrity, commitment, accountability, excellence, and impartiality. 

The interrogation on Sonia Gandhi by EDs has put up the above-said structure, amendments, and values on the edifice of dubiousness. 

Congress Launches Pan-India Protests Against ED Grilling Of Sonia Gandhi | English News | CNN-News18

ABHIJEET ANAND

Sociologist, Engineer, and Content writer

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