Adarsh probe: HC summons ED Director

Mumbai: Coming down heavily on the Enforcement Directorate for "serious lapse" and failure on its part to initiate probe against members of scam-tainted Adarsh Society for money laundering, the Bombay High Court today summoned the Director of the investigating agency to appear before it on March 12. "It is unfortunate that ED has remained a mute spectator.

There is a serious lapse on the agency`s part for not probing into money laundering offence. ED has not moved an inch. It reflects a sorry state of affairs," a division bench of justices P B Majmudar and R D Dhanuka said.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by social activists Simpreet Singh and Pravin Wategaonkar seeking the court`s intervention to supervise the probe and ED to initiate inquiry into money laundering offences.

The court was irked when it was informed by ED lawyer that it had not begun its probe as CBI was investigating the matter. "Why are you depending on the CBI ? You are a separate agency and can conduct probe independently," Majmudar said.

Directing the ED Director to remain personally present before the court on March 12, the court said the agency should inform it what steps are contemplated and in what matter. "We are summoning the director as there has been no assistance from his department to the court," Justice Majmudar said.

The bench also raised concerns over the tardy probe by CBI which has been investigating the case since January last year. "Why have you not finished the investigation till now? It is a matter where many big names are concerned. You (CBI) must be careful but at the same time you cannot let people question your credibility," the court said.

Asking CBI to file a status report on what progress has been in the probe on the next date of hearing, the court said, "If we are satisfied with the status report we will grant you more time to investigate. If it seems that you are inactive then a special team would have to be formed to probe the matter." .

CBI counsel Mandar Goswami told the court that the agency was also looking into `benami` transactions and since there are 104 members, scrutiny of all the documents would take some time. "Several of the members have purchased flats in Adarsh through benami transactions," Goswami alleged.

The court has directed CBI to name all those members who have purchased flats through benami transactions in their status report to be filed on March 12. The court also raised a query with the Maharashtra government as to why it was not cancelling the allotment given to those members who made such purchases. Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol informed the court that the government would look into the matter if CBI submits a report to them.