The DMK-Led Tamil Nadu government contends that the ED’s inquiry in the money laundering case related to sand mining does not have the State’s approval and accuses the agency of conducting a “fishing and roving” investigation.
Following on-the-spot inquiries and raids at various sand mining sites, the ED issued summons to at least 10 district magistrates and questioned the chief engineer of the water resources department, Muthaiah. The raids reportedly uncovered incriminating documents, including fake sale receipts with counterfeit QR codes, suggesting illegal sand sales. The agency also seized unaccounted cash amounting to Rs. 2.33 Crore, along with gold worth Rs. 56.86 Lakh. Water resources department chief engineer Muthaiah was among those questioned.
The move by the DMK government to challenge the ED’s summons comes on the heels of serious allegations made by suspended DMK functionary Gudiyatham Kumaran. In a video released by Kumaran, accusations were leveled against Duraimurugan and his son, implicating them in a massive sand mining scam amounting to Rs. 60,000 crores.
In response to the ED’s actions, the DMK government approached the Madras High Court, arguing that the ED’s summons to the district collectors were illegal. Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram appeared before a division bench, asserting that the district collectors are neither accused nor witnesses and, therefore, cannot be summoned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) without proper notification.
The petitioners argue that the ED’s actions are technically flawed, as offenses under the Mines and Minerals Act and the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concessions rules do not fall under the purview of the PMLA. They further contend that sand, being a minor mineral, is a state government subject, and the ED has no authority to investigate matters within the domain of the state government.
“The actions are nothing but a misuse of the authority under the PMLA to pressure and demoralise the state administration from discharging their functions and duties,” the DMK government stated in its petition. It alleges that the ED’s actions amount to an encroachment on the powers of the state government by an instrumentality of the union government.
Furthermore, the petitioners argue that the ED is selectively exercising its powers under the PMLA, violating principles of federalism and impinging upon the powers of state governments not governed by the political party in power at the centre.
The DMK government is seeking a declaration from the court that the ED’s inquiry into offenses of money laundering within a state’s territorial limits without the state’s consent is violative of the basic structure of federalism and separation of powers. They contend that such a probe by the ED should only be conducted at the request of state agencies or under the directions of Constitutional Courts.
In response to these developments, TN BJP state president K Annamalai raised questions on social media, stating, “Why is the DMK Govt trying to block a Civil Servant from appearing before the ED for questioning related to Sand Mining Money Laundering charges?” He implied that the DMK government may have reasons to hide, suggesting that their actions could expose alleged wrongdoings in the sand mining activities.
The matter is scheduled to be heard by the Madras High Court on Monday, November 27, 2023. As the legal battle unfolds, it brings to light the complex interplay between state and federal powers, allegations of political motives, and the potential exposure of corruption in the sand mining sector in Tamil Nadu.
The ones who have a lot to hide have many reasons to be panicked: the jittery move of the Corrupt DMK Govt only insinuates the deep rot created by DMK to exploit the resources of our State.
Why is the DMK Govt trying to block a Civil Servant from appearing before the ED for… https://t.co/iTaPEQkgVN
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) November 24, 2023
Meanwhile, DMK MP Gautham Sigamani, son TN higher education minister K Ponmudi appeared before the Special Court for ED cases on November 24 in connection with a money-laundering case. Additional sessions judge Malar Valentina provided him a copy of the 90-page charge sheet filed by the ED in the money laundering case. The case is linked to alleged irregularities committed in quarry licence conditions when his father, Ponmudi was the state minister between 2006 and 2011. Earlier in June this year, the HC refused to quash the trail of the original case initiated by the DVAC in 2012 before the Villupuram Sessions Court.