Delhi court pulls up ED over ‘shoddy probe’ in PNB case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Delhi court pulls up ED over ‘shoddy probe’ in PNB case

Apr 03, 2024 02:22 AM IST

Delhi court points out multiple lapses in ED's investigation of PNB fraud case, orders fresh trial for two accused.

A Delhi court has pulled up the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for shoddy investigation and lapses by its investigative officer (IO) in a money-laundering case of where Punjab National Bank (PNB) was defrauded of 1,46,71,000.

 The court recommended the ED must ensure there are sufficient checks and balances for IOs to act with expected urgency, diligence and alacrity in every investigation.
The court recommended the ED must ensure there are sufficient checks and balances for IOs to act with expected urgency, diligence and alacrity in every investigation.

The court noted three lapses committed by the federal probe agency — first, despite there being evidence available, ED failed to name two persons as accused in the case. The court has now summoned the two accused initiating a fresh trial against them. Second, the court noted that the IO had failed to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the money trail. Third, the court took note of the fact that the charge sheet in the case was filed after an inordinate and unexplained delay of nine years in 2018.

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“The is not only undue, unwarranted and unexplained delay for over nine to 10 years in presenting the charge sheet or complaint, but also, the investigation is faulty. Accordingly, it is for the competent authority of DoE to look into the circumstances and reasons for the delay and defects in the investigation and fix the responsibility of the officers concerned liable for such lethargy,” said special judge Mohd. Farrukh, in the order pronounced on March 30 but made available on Monday.

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The court was hearing a case registered on December 14, 2009, by ED based on a case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 6, 2009, against certain bank officials and other accused persons for defrauding PNB. It was alleged that the accused conspired and fabricated eight cheques in 2009, of which three were encashed and amount of 1,46,71,000 was credited in the accounts of two accused, causing loss to the bank and its account holders. The attempt to encash the remaining five cheques failed.

The court, while passing the judgment convicting two accused in the case -- Mukesh Jain and Nipun Bansal -- observed that the IO Pankaj Kumar had not arraigned two others as accused in the case though they were found to be involved in money laundering.

The court noted that the statements of a person named Pramod Kumar Pandey were recorded but he was made a witness despite assisting Jain in laundering of proceeds of crime. The court also said that despite mentioning in the charge sheet that a man named Adhiraj Kumar could not be located during investigation, no steps were taken to trace him or take coercive actions against him.

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The court also took note of the fact that the IO did not conduct a thorough investigation regarding the money trail of the proceeds of crime, and paid only a “lip service” to the mandate of law of conducting fair and proper investigation.

“The omissions on the part of IO Pankaj Kumar coupled with non- arraignment of Promod Kumar Pandey and Adhiraj Kumar as accused reflect his lackadaisical and nonchalant conduct towards his duty to conduct fair, honest, sincere and dispassionate investigation,” the judge said.

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The court recommended the ED must ensure there are sufficient checks and balances for IOs to act with expected urgency, diligence and alacrity in every investigation.

“It is also an occasion for the DoE as an institution which takes pride in being the premier investigating agency of the country to introspect as to what steps are required in the direction to ensure conduction of expeditious and fair investigation in the cases,” the judge said in the order.

The court issued notice to the IO to show cause as to why penal and disciplinary actions should not be recommended against him. It also summoned Pandey and Kumar under Section 319 (power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of offence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to face trial separately.

The court also acquitted two accused, Shiv Kumar Bhargava and Benu Jain, observing that the prosecution had failed to prove the offence of money laundering against them.

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