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Saradha panel bad in law: ED

Calcutta, Jan. 22: The Enforcement Directorate today told Calcutta High Court that the appointment of the Justice Shyamal Sen commission and the court’s order allowing the panel to confiscate and sell Saradha properties were contrary to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Appearing for the ED in the Saradha default case, advocate Somnath Bose told a division bench: “The commission was set up by the Bengal government under the state’s Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2002. But the act runs contrary to the central government’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.”

“The central act empowers only the ED to seize and sell properties of companies like Saradha. So the state government’s decision to confiscate Saradha properties through the Justice Sen commission and the high court’s directive allowing it to do so are bad in law,” he added.

On May 20 last year, the state government had set up the commission to explore ways of compensating duped Saradha depositors.

In response to two public interest litigations demanding a CBI probe into the default, a division bench of Calcutta High Court headed by Justice Asim Kumar Banerjee had on June 19 passed an order allowing the commission to sell the seized Saradha properties.

The ED is one of the respondents to the two PILs.

The ED advocate told the division bench headed by Justice Banerjee: “Since Saradha also had properties outside Bengal and outside the country and, as the Justice Sen Commission has no jurisdiction to seize those properties, the court should immediately pass an order asking the ED to confiscate them.”