Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

HC dismisses plea of former Dera Sacha Sauda spokespers­on against ED probe


- Surender Sharma surender.sharma@hindustant­imes.com

CHANDIGARH : The Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed a plea from former spokesman of Dera Sacha Sauda Pawan Insan seeking quashing of money laundering proceeding­s initiated by the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e (ED) against him.

He is an accused in 2017 Panchkula violence and ED had registered Enforcemen­t Case Informatio­n Report (ECIR) against him on February 5, 2018, in connection with August 27, 2017 FIR into widespread violence reported in Panchkula, when Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted in two rape cases of female dera followers by the special CBI court Panchkula.

He was convicted on August 25, 2017. Soon after the order was passed, widespread violence in Panchkula and parts of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh was reported in which at least 38 deaths, including deaths of 30 persons in Panchkula, were reported, besides, widespread damage to government as well as private properties.

Insan’s plea was that he had been discharged for offences under 121 (waging war or attempting to wage war) and 121-A (conspiracy to commit offence under section 121 IPC) of the Indian Penal Code in the FIR and the only allegation which remained against him was of criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC).

Hence, as petitioner has already been discharged of the predicate offences, the ED proceeding­s against him should be quashed.

ED in response had argued that the plea was not maintainab­le.

The petition was filed under Section 482 (inherent jurisdicti­on of HC) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) seeking the quashing.

But since ECIR is an internal administra­tive document of the ED, it cannot be kept at par with an FIR and the CrPC provisions are not applicable to the ECIR.

Hence, court can’t take up this plea under Section 482 of the CrPC to quash the ECIR. The appropriat­e remedy for the petitioner would be to file a plea under Article 226 of the Constituti­on of India (invoking writ jurisdicti­on of HC), the ED had argued.

The bench of justice Manjari Nehru Kaul observed that an ECIR cannot be kept at the same pedestal as an FIR. It is crucial to note that an ECIR is not registered under the CrPC, unlike an FIR, which is mandatoril­y registered under Section 154 of the CrPC.

Additional­ly, there exists no legal obligation to provide a copy of the ECIR to an accused and the absence of such provision does not in any manner impinge upon any constituti­onal or statutory rights of a person, it said adding thus, an ECIR is an administra­tive document prepared by the officers of the ED.

It precedes the commenceme­nt of the prosecutio­n against individual­s involved in the offence of money laundering, which in turn is governed by special statute i.e. PMLA, it added. “…since the ECIR precedes the stage of criminal prosecutio­n and proceeding­s, it thus falls outside the purview of the inherent jurisdicti­on conferred upon this court by Section 482 of the CrPC,” it said adding that if his plea is entertaine­d it would result in high court exceeding its jurisdicti­on under Section 482 CrPC.

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