Illegal Sand Mining Probe: SC Rebukes Tamil Nadu District Collectors for not Appearing Before ED

Illegal Sand Mining Probe

The Supreme Court reprimanded five district collectors from Tamil Nadu on Tuesday for failing to physically appear before the Enforcement Directorate, despite previous orders, in a money laundering investigation linked to alleged illegal sand mining.

The court directed these officials to personally appear before the ED on April 25. Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal of the bench criticized the officials for their “cavalier approach,” stating that it reflected a lack of respect for the court, the law, and the Constitution.

They emphasized that such a nonchalant attitude could lead to serious consequences for the officials. The court stressed that when it issues orders for officials to appear in response to ED summons, compliance is expected, underscoring the necessity of respecting court directives, laws, and the Indian Constitution.

Representing the Tamil Nadu government, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Amit Anand Tiwari argued that the officials were preoccupied with maintaining public order and implementing social security schemes. They pointed out that the Lok Sabha elections were scheduled for April 19 in Tamil Nadu, and the officials were engaged in election-related duties.

However, the bench maintained that the officials should have appeared before the probe agency and provided explanations for their absence. It granted them one final opportunity to comply with the ED’s summons in the money laundering probe.

Previously, on February 27, the Supreme Court had directed these five district collectors to appear before the ED as part of the ongoing money laundering investigation.

The Madras High Court had stayed the ED’s summons to the district collectors of Vellore, Tiruchirappalli, Karur, Thanjavur, and Ariyalur on November 28 last year. The ED challenged this order in the Supreme Court, arguing that non-cooperation would impede its investigation.

The Supreme Court suspended the high court’s order, remarking that Tamil Nadu’s plea and the officials’ stance were “strange and unusual” and could hinder the ED’s money laundering investigation associated with the FIRs.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte