A division bench of Justice P N Prakash and Justice R M T Teekaa Raman dismissed the plea moved by Ramesh Dugar for lack of jurisdiction. Since the FIRs filed initially by the CBI and later by the ED were registered in New Delhi, the court said it had no jurisdiction to entertain the plea.
According to the petitioner, a few documents and a mobile phone were seized by the ED from his Chennai residence during a raid conducted on August 5. As per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act under which the FIRs were filed the ED cannot retain the seized materials beyond 30 days.
Therefore, the ED filed an application before the adjudicating authority seeking permission to retain the seized materials. While the petitioner has submitted his response to the application and same was pending consideration, he had moved the present plea before the high court.
He contended that the seizure of the items was done by the ED from the premises of the petitioner in Chennai and therefore, the high court would have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the writ petition.
Refusing to accept the contention, the bench said, “We are afraid that in the facts and circumstances of this case, seizure and recovery of the articles from the premises of the petitioner in Chennai, cannot confer jurisdiction on this court because, the investigation by the CBI as well by the ED is being held at New Delhi.”‘
The search and seizure are the effect of the investigation and not the cause of the investigation, the court added. According to ED, FIR was registered against S Bhaskararaman, Karti P Chidambaram, Vikas Makharia, Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL), Bell Tools Limited, unknown public servants and private persons in connection with the scam.
They alleged that 50 lakh was paid as bribe to provide more project VISAS to TSPL beyond the permissible limit to bring Chinese experts for its project.