SC pulls up ED in black money case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the ED for filing a charge sheet against Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan in a case of alleged money laundering without informing a high-level committee formed by the government to monitor probe in sensitive cases.

The apex court was also anguished that during the last hearing on May 4 when the Enforcement Directorate placed its status report on the investigation in the blackmoney case involving Khan and others it did not make a mention of the charge sheet to be filed on May 6 before a special court in Mumbai.

"You (ED) filed the charge sheet without placing it before the committee you have constituted and we are surprised," a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said.

"We heard the matter on May 4 but there was no mention in the status report that charge sheet was ready to be filed which was filed on May 6. You did not mention this in the status report. There was no mention of the charge sheet.

Why it was not mentioned that the charge sheet is to be filed?," the bench asked.

The bench also queried, "Why it was not mentioned that the investigation is complete and the charge sheet will be filed? Two days later we read in newspapers that the charge sheet has been filed."

It said that the status report filed on May 4 had stated that the investigation was still going on.

The bench said it was "surprising" that the charge sheet was not placed before the 10-member high-level committee headed by the Revenue Secretary.

"We thought that somebody should look into the charge sheet. It should have been put before a committee created by the government," the bench said.

It said the question was about monitoring the probe for which a mechanism was created by the government while opposing the setting up of special investigation team.

"We are surprised that you have suggested the mechanism and created the committee for monitoring," the bench told Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium.

Subramanium agreed that the charge sheet should have been placed before the committee and said corrective measures will be ensured.

The court directed the ED to provide the copy of the over 900-page charge sheet to the petitioners.

The court was hearing a petition filed by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani and others seeking action for bringing back black money stashed away by Indians in banks abroad.