PNB fraud: ED refuses to share details of Nirav, Mehul's seized assets
However, Enforcement Directorate had earlier made public on Twitter that assets worth Rs 7,664 crore had been attached in connection with the cases involving the uncle-nephew duo of Modi and Choksi. The central agency has also refused to disclose expenses incurred on attempts to bring back the two billionaire diamantaires who had fled the country in the first week of January, days before the PNB approached the CBI reporting the biggest scam in the banking industry in India
The Enforcement Directorate has refused to disclose under the RTI Act the assets of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi seized during its probe into the over USD 2 billion scam in the Punjab National Bank. However, it had earlier made public on Twitter that assets worth Rs 7,664 crore had been attached in connection with the cases involving the uncle-nephew duo of Modi and Choksi. The central agency has also refused to disclose expenses incurred on attempts to bring back the two billionaire diamantaires who had fled the country in the first week of January, days before the PNB approached the CBI reporting the biggest scam in the banking industry in India.
Modi was last seen in a group photograph of CEOs with the Prime Minister in Davos which was issued by the Press Information Bureau in January. The immunity given to the Enforcement Directorate under Section 24 of the RTI Act does not cover information pertaining to alleged corruption. The CBI has booked Choksi and Modi on corruption and fraud charges. Vihar Dhurve, a Pune-based activist, had sought information from the ED on its officials' travel expenses, lawyers' consultation fee paid in India and abroad to bring back Choksi and Modi. Dhurve had also sought details of the scam allegedly perpetrated by Choksi and Modi including the Letters of Undertakings the PNB issued to their companies, the money received against these LoUs, the value of assets belonging to the duo seized by the ED.
The ED said it is an organisation listed in the second schedule of the RTI Act. "The applicant is, therefore, informed that the information sought by him in his application cannot be provided in view of the exemption granted under Section 24 read with second schedule of the RTI Act," the central organisation said. The Section 24 of the RTI Act reads: "Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the second schedule, being organisations established by the central government or any information furnished by such organisations to that government; provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section."
However, the ED had, in a public statement posted on Twitter on March 24, said that it had seized assets worth Rs 7,664 crore during the probe involving the cases of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The Delhi High Court had also underlined in a separate case related to the CBI and the IB, both exempt from the RTI Act like the ED, that the information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation is not excluded from the purview.
"The only conclusion that can be drawn is that -- if the information sought pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violations, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause, irrespective of the fact that the information pertains to the exempt intelligence and security organisations or not, or pertains to an officer of the Intelligence Bureau or not," the bench had said in the order.