Ludhiana court allows ED to inspect files of I-T cases of CM, son Raninder
Jalandhar The court of additional district sessions judge, Raj Kumar, of Ludhiana, has dismissed the plea of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his son Raninder Singh, challenging a lower court order of September 2020 that allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to inspect the files of their income tax (I-T) cases.
The ED had filed three applications after learning that the I-T department had placed fresh documents in their case files in August 2020. The central agency had initiated action against Raninder under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) after the I-T department alleged that he had lied, under oath, about the trusts that he allegedly owned in Virgin Islands. Raninder had even appeared before the ED in connection with a FEMA violation, and the agency wants to inspect or obtain the documents to carry forward its investigation.
The CM and his son had challenged the lower court order on the grounds that no opportunity of hearing had been given to them before allowing the ED’s petition. They had claimed that this was against the principles of natural justice. Their plea added that the ED had no locus standi to file an application for inspection before the trial court, as to date no cognisance has been taken against them.
The court of justice Kumar, however, observed that the perusal of proviso to Rule 2 (inspection of judicial records) reveals that a stranger to a civil or criminal case may, for sufficient reason shown to the satisfaction of court, inspect the record of such pending cases. “Thus, the matter regarding the inspection was between the ED and the court. So, it was for the court seized with the matter to record its satisfaction and allow the inspection of the record to the stranger,” the order says.
The order adds, “As discussed above, in view of the inspection rules, a stranger to a case can inspect civil as well as criminal pending file for sufficient reasons and the ED is an independent investigation agency under the FEMA. The department has the locus standi to inspect the file and, in case, the inspection to the ED is not allowed which is the competent authority under law to conduct the investigation, it would create hurdles in investigation.”
The judge has directed the parties to the case to appear before the trial court on September 9.