PNB fraud case 'sketchy': Delhi HC seeks ED's response on Nirav Modi's plea

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a plea by Nirav Modi's firm Firestar Diamond against a money laundering case lodged by the agency in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta issued notice to the ED on Firestar Diamond International Private Ltd's plea seeking direction to the agency to supply it several documents, including a copy of the search warrants.

Calling the case "sketchy", the Delhi High Court judge said, "want to wait to see what the ED has to say because Vijay Aggarwal (Nirav Modi's lawyer) himself doesn't seem to be too sure of the facts of the case".

The court further said that it's not clear as to what is the exact amount involved in the case.

"It's not clear under what authority the ED went to search the properties," the High Court said.

The bench, however, refrained itself from staying the proceedings against the company saying we want to consider the "stay part" after the agency files their response.

It directed ED to place before it the sequence in which it has initiated proceedings in the matter.

"The relevant records involved in the matter should be placed before the court on the next date of the hearing, March 19. The officer conversant with the present case should also remain present in the court to answer all queries," the bench said. Advocate Vijay Aggrawal, appearing for the firm, has sought quashing of the ED action of taking away the movable property and depositing the same with the PNB bank.

He also submitted before the court that the agency be directed to supply copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered by it, pursuant to which the search and seizure was conducted by the ED in its premises.

Speaking to reporters, Vijay Aggarwal said that the High Court asked the ED to present all documents and said the matter is 'sketchy' since the exact facts are not known.

"Court asked ED to present all documents and said the matter is sketchy since we don't have all the facts. We told them that this is the basis of our petition that there is no information. Court fixed matter for further hearing at 2:15 pm on March 19," he added.

"I can understand search, I can understand seizure. But they have taken away my properties and given them to PNB," Nirav Modi had said in his plea.

Additional Solicitor General Sandeep Sethi and advocate Amit Mahajan, appearing for ED submitted that the firm's plea is premature and the challenge is misconceived. Billionaire Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam recently came to light following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The ED has registered the money laundering case against Nirav Modi, his firms and others on the basis of a CBI FIR.

The CBI and the ED have registered FIRs to probe the case and intensified the crackdown on Nirav Modi and Choksi with the ED seizing jewellery and assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, the I-T department attaching various properties, and the CBI grilling several senior executives of his company.

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