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ACB breather for Congress leader

No action will be taken against Congress leader Kripashankar Singh and his wife Maltidevi for alleged possession of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) informed the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday.

mumbai Updated: Sep 30, 2011 01:40 IST
HT Correspondent

No action will be taken against Congress leader Kripashankar Singh and his wife Maltidevi for alleged possession of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) informed the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday.

"The ACB has consciously decided against prosecuting Singh and his wife, as the quantum of disproportionate assets held by them was just marginally higher than the prescribed limit of 10%," advocate general Ravi Kadam told the HC.

A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Roshan Dalvi was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) that sought the setting up of a special investigation team to probe the disproportionate assets allegedly accumulated by the Congress leader and his family.

Stating that the ACB had investigated all transactions made by Singh, Kadam added, "The quantum of disproportionate assets comes to 5.6% if the income of the Singh family is considered in totality. It goes up to 11.63% if Singh and his wife are separated as one unit."

However, the income tax (I-T) department has reopened several assessments by the Singh family. Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata informed the court that so far, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has not found any evidence that suggested the commission of a scheduled offence. "Prosecution under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) requires the commission of a scheduled offence. The ED cannot simply act against anybody only because they possess assets and money," added Khambata.

Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, arguing for PIL petitioner Sanjay Tiwari, however, insisted that the agency could proceed if there is a flood of cash transactions, by treating the money as suspicious. Alleging that the ACB investigation has been faulty, the senior lawyer urged the court to hand over a copy of the last ACB report to the petitioner so as to point out the flaws in the investigation.

Mukul Rohatgi, senior advocate representing Singh, opposed the move contending that the court cannot allow an appeal over ACB's conclusions. He added that the continuous investigations and inquires have already taken a toll on the reputation of the former minister.

The court reserved the order on the PIL.