Saturday, June 15, 2024

Delhi HC halts ED proceedings against Hero Motocorp Chairman in foreign currency case

Deeming DRI’s complaint, which was earlier halted, as the origin of the ED’s proceedings related to foreign currency charges against Hero Motocorp Chairman Pawan Kant Munjal, the Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the central agency’s proceedings.

The court clarified that the stay has been issued only in relation to Munjal and the financial probe agency — Enforcement Directorate (ED) — can carry on with its investigation with respect to others in the case.

Earlier this month, the high court had temporarily stayed proceedings against Munjal by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

The court’s interim order had highlighted Munjal’s exoneration by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) on similar grounds, not disclosed during the trial court proceedings.

DRI’s prosecution complaint last year accused Munjal and others of illicitly exporting prohibited items, including foreign currency.

Munjal sought to quash the complaint, asserting that the trial court’s summoning order lacked reasons and overlooked his exoneration by CESTAT in March 2022.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Munjal, argued that the DRI concealed the CESTAT judgement during the trial court proceedings.

Justice Saurabh Banerjee, expressing concerns over the lack of reasons in the summoning order, deemed the matter worthy of prima facie consideration.

The court suspended the operation of the July 1, 2023 order by an additional chief metropolitan magistrate and all associated proceedings until February 21, 2024, the next hearing date.

It observed that the complaint and the show-cause notice from 2019 were substantially identical, and the CESTAT’s exoneration was not disclosed.

The court issued notice to DRI on Munjal’s petition and granted three weeks for a reply.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate had also initiated a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, stemming from the DRI charge sheet related to alleged evasion of duty or prohibitions.

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