Police have brought back two acts into reality to confiscate properties of criminals in order to strike at the root of illegal financial sources.
The two acts — Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 — arm the men in uniform, in addition to recommending cases of financial irregularities to the Enforcement Directorate, to independently attach properties of criminals and even arms suppliers.
In a first-of-its-kind move in the state, the Enforcement Directorate attached properties of gangster Ritlal Yadav after the economic offences unit of the state government asked for help from the central agency. The unit, set up early this year, works under the state home department to deal with cases where economic offences are reported.
The Enforcement Directorate has so far detected properties worth Rs 1.33 crore of Ritlal, a former head (mukhiya) of Kothwan panchayat in Patna’s Danapur subdivision. His properties included land in Bihta, Danapur and Khagaul, investment in insurance policies and deposits in different banks. The economic offences unit provided the Enforcement Directorate a list of over 20 criminal cases, including murder, extortion and kidnapping for ransom against Ritlal, who unsuccessfully contested the 2010 Assembly election from Danapur as an Independent. Ritlal had contested the election from behind the bars and spent money lavishly. The action against Ritlal has been initiated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. “The central agency has so far detected Ritlal’s wealth worth Rs.1.33 crore in Patna. The market value of the property, however, is not less than Rs 5 crore. The property amassed by Ritlal comes under scheduled offences of the act,” said a senior official of the Enforcement Directorate.
The official, who did not wish to be identified, said that under the act, even persons, who have knowingly assisted the offender either in amassing wealth or concealing the same, would be liable for punishment. “We have taken up several cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. But Ritlal’s is the first such case in Bihar,” he added.
Director-general of police Abhayanand, the brain behind the move to tighten the noose around criminals, said that several underworld dons operating in the state were under the scanner of the economic offences unit, which has been entrusted with the task of striking at the sources of income of people indulging in unlawful activities. He said that the state police, unlike the Enforcement Directorate, were not empowered to initiate such a stringent action against criminals. “We have initiated the process of attachment of property of some persons under the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which were not in use for long,” he added.
Sources said that Munger police last week sent a proposal to the headquarters recommending attachment of properties worth several lakhs belonging to notorious arms supplier Kundan Mandal, who had allegedly received a consignment of Glock pistols, a prohibited firearm not meant for the common people. “The Austria-made Glock pistol, which is supplied to police and central security personnel only, has been seized for the first time in Bihar. A Germany-made pistol was also seized from Mandal’s associate, which hinted at wide connections of the Munger-based arms supplier,” Abhaynand said. A Glock pistol is sold anything between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 7 lakh in the state. The recovery of the foreign pistol in July attracted attention of the National Investigating Agency, which sent a team headed by an additional SP-rank officer to the state.
The wealth accumulated through crime by notorious gangsters Shambhu and Mantoo, whose names once spelt terror among contractors and employees of the central public works department (CPWD) in Patna office, is also under the scanner of the ED, sources said. The sources added that former RJD MP from Siwan, Mohammad Shahabuddin, who is serving sentence in Siwan divisional jail, might also fall prey to the Bihar government’s war against wealth accumulated through illegal activities.
Economic offences unit sources said that properties of some beneficiaries of central government schemes in Araria were also attached under the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944. “There are certain laws under the IPC, which can be slapped against economic offenders but only ED is empowered to initiate action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” said a senior official of the unit. He clarified that the recent move was quite different from the earlier one to confiscate properties of corrupt public servants. “The properties of public servants have been confiscated under the Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009,” he added.