5 Tamil Nadu district collectors appear before ED, comply with Supreme Court direction

In compliance with the SC direction, district collectors of Vellore, Karur, Ariyalur, Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur appeared before the ED.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 25, 2024 | 5:21 PMUpdatedApr 25, 2024 | 5:21 PM

Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Five district collectors of Tamil Nadu appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Chennai on Thursday, 25 April, in connection with an ongoing money laundering probe related to alleged illegal sand mining in the state.

In compliance with the Supreme Court’s direction of 2 April, district collectors of Vellore (VR Subbulaxmi), Karur (M Thangavel), Ariyalur (J Anne Mary Swarna), Tiruchirappalli (M Pradeep Kumar) and Thanjavur (Deepak Jacob) appeared before the ED authorities.

The apex court, strongly deprecating the non-appearance of district heads before the ED, had directed them to appear before the Central agency authorities on 25 April, saying failure to do so would have serious consequences.

A Bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said the officials adopted a “cavalier approach” and the action shows they have no respect for the court, law and the Constitution.

“In our opinion, such a cavalier approach will land them in a difficult situation. When the court had passed the order directing them to appear in response to the summons issued by the ED, they were expected to obey the same order and remain present before the ED.

“This shows that the officers don’t have either respect for the court or the law much less the Constitution of India. Such an approach is strongly deprecated,” the Bench said.

Also Read: TN saw illegal sand mining worth ₹4,730 crore, ED tells Madras HC

‘Busy with election work’

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Amit Anand Tiwari, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, said the officials were busy in maintaining public order and implementation of the social security scheme.

They said the Lok Sabha elections are scheduled in Tamil Nadu for 19 April and the officials have been looking after the poll-related works.

The Bench said that the officials should have appeared before the probe agency and explained the reasons. It said that one last opportunity is being given to the officials to appear before the ED in connection with the money laundering probe.
On 27 February, the top court directed the five district collectors to appear before the ED in connection with an ongoing money laundering probe.

The Madras High Court, on 28 November last year, stayed the summons issued by the central probe agency seeking the presence of district collectors of Vellore, Tiruchirappalli, Karur, Thanjavur and Ariyalur in connection with its ongoing probe. The ED moved the top court against the high court order, saying the non-cooperation would hamper its probe.

The Supreme Court had stayed the high court order granting relief to the district collectors and said the plea of Tamil Nadu and its officials was “strange and unusual” and may lead to stalling the investigation of ED in money laundering aspect in connection with the FIRs.

(With PTI inputs)