The Madras High Court on Friday, January 5, stayed the summons issued to private contractors by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the ongoing case of sand mining money laundering in the state. A bench of justices SS Sundar and Sunder Mohan was hearing a petition filed by A Rajkumar and others, who were issued summons by the ED. The enforcement agency had earlier issued summons to district collectors, which was challenged by the state government.
The petitioner contended that ED’s summons was a “gross and blatant abuse” of the process of law and an infringement of fundamental rights. Rajkumar also claimed that he was not connected with the cases filed against him and the ED’s case was registered with an “ulterior motive”.
Stating that he received the summons on December 11, 2023, Rajkumar said it was vague and did not mention the reason he was summoned. He further claimed that ED did not have the power to proceed with the case and sought the court to quash the case.
Additional Solicitor General ARL Sundaresan, appearing for the ED, argued that the central agency wanted clarifications on certain matters, and that it cannot state if they are suspects or witnesses at this stage.
The enforcement agency has been conducting probes since September into sand quarries across the state. The allegations are that a large quantity of sand is being mined and illegally sold. In November last year, the ED had informed the HC that illegal sand mining sales to the tune of approximately Rs 4,700 crore have taken place over the last couple of years.