The discord between the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) unfolded when DVAC officials, responding to a complaint, arrested ED official Ankit Tiwari. The charges against Tiwari allege that he sought a bribe of Rs 3 crore from a government employee, posing a potential threat due to a case registered against the employee by DVAC. Tiwari purportedly agreed to accept Rs 51 lakh as a bribe, with the doctor making an initial payment of Rs 20 lakh on November 1. Subsequently, Tiwari sought the remaining amount, demanding the full Rs. 51 lakh.
Despite a plea to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Madras High Court dismissed the Public Interest Litigation filed for the transfer, upholding DVAC’s jurisdiction in the matter. The trial court denied bail to Ankit Tiwari.
In an unprecedented move, 35 DVAC sleuths raided the ED’s Madurai Zonal office on December 1. The DVAC alleged that its team faced obstruction from entering the chamber of accused officer Ankit Tiwari for over three hours. The Assistant Director (AD) in Madurai informed that he was awaiting approval from Chennai, prompting DVAC to involve local police for assistance. DVAC claimed that its officers were prevented from carrying out their duties, even after informing ED and obtaining court approval.
According to reports from an English daily in Chennai, the AD of ED expressed his dissent in the search magazar, stating that he received it “under protest” and alleged that the search was conducted illegally. The rift between the investigative agencies has escalated, with both sides presenting contrasting narratives regarding the legality and conduct of the search.
The clash between the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has taken a new turn, with the ED sending a reminder to TN DGP Sangkar Jiwal, urging him to register a case against DVAC officials and unauthorized persons involved in what the ED terms an “illegal search operation.”
Chronology of Events: The ED’s reminder, dated December 16, comes after a fortnight of inaction by the Director General of Police (DGP). In its complaint earlier this month, the ED accused DVAC officials of an “illegal search operation,” alleging criminal trespass, theft, and unauthorized access to sensitive records related to ongoing probes in the ED’s Madurai office.
ED’s Request to TN DGP
The ED’s letter reiterated its request for the TN DGP to file an FIR against DVAC officials and the unidentified individuals involved in the alleged intrusion. The ED expressed concerns about the unknown identities of the 35 individuals who entered its office without proper search warrants. It highlighted the potential risks, including the misuse of copied documents and the need for the protection of witnesses involved in various sensitive cases.
Ongoing Probes by ED
The ED is currently investigating cases against nearly ten senior ministers in the DMK government, covering a spectrum of charges from money laundering to violations of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA). The recent arrest of Senior Minister V Senthil Balaji and raids on other ministers have heightened the stakes in the ongoing confrontations.
Shift of Probe to Delhi: In response to what it perceives as non-cooperation and potential meddling by the Tamil Nadu police, the ED has decided to shift the probe to its New Delhi headquarters. The move underscores the growing tension and lack of trust between the investigative agencies.
Security Measures and Jurisdictional War
Post the incident, the Union Home Minister deployed Indo-Tibetan Border Police for security at the ED’s Madurai office. The Madurai Police Commissioner’s refusal to accept a letter from the ED, insisting on a postal submission, has further fueled the confrontation. The ED and DVAC are currently engaged in a jurisdictional battle, reflecting the direct confrontation between the DMK government and central agencies.
Withdrawal of General Consent and Fallout: The DMK government’s withdrawal of general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year has added complexity to the situation, aiming to avoid probes into its ministers. The fallout from this clash extends beyond the immediate investigation, impacting the broader dynamics of state-central relations and the autonomy of investigative agencies.
Probe Shift to Delhi: As tensions rise, the ED is reportedly considering shifting the investigation to its Delhi headquarters, signaling a potential escalation in the conflict. This move could impact the already strained relations between the state and the central government.