New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) official arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police allegedly for accepting bribe has been sent to 15-day police custody.
On Friday, December 1, the state police arrested ED official Ankit Tiwari, alleging that he had been caught “red-handed” while accepting a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a doctor in the Dindigul district. On the other hand, hours after the arrest, the state police on Friday also raided the central probe agency office in Madurai.
The police are quoted by news agencies as saying that Tiwari along with his team of ED officers had been threatening several people and receiving bribes in the name of closing their case at the Enforcement Directorate. DVAC (Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption) officials caught him with Rs 20 lakh cash in Dindigul. The investigation is underway. DVAC also searched the ED Office in Madurai.
Tiwari and his team intimidated and received bribes from several persons in exchange of dropping charges against them, the police alleged, as per The News Minute. This alleged bribery racket was discovered months after ED raids on Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leaders and their associates. Former minister for Electricity, Prohibition, and Excise V. Senthil Balaji was arrested earlier this year by ED for his cash-for-jobs scam.
The Indian Express reports that Tiwari is a 2016-batch officer, who had previously served in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and is currently posted in Madurai.
In July, Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi’s home in Villupuram was also raided by ED.
In November this year, Rajasthan’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested two ED officials on bribery charges, a day after the agency issued summons to the sons of the state Congress Committee Chief Govind Singh Dotasra. Dotasra’s sons, Abhilash and Avinash, had been summoned by the ED with reference to an alleged exam paper leak.
Last week, the DMK-led state government had moved the Madras high court against ED summons to 10 district collectors as part of an investigation into alleged irregularities and malpractices in the mining and sale of river sand in Tamil Nadu. The high court had stayed the summons.
As far as the controversy regarding action by state police on central agency officers goes, there is a view that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Tamil Nadu is “well within its jurisdiction to arrest an ED officer (Central Govt employee) on bribery allegations. With the State Govt revoking General Consent to CBI under Sec 6 of DSPE Act, State Police has sole jurisdiction over Central Govt employees too in its territory under Prevention of Corruption Act.”
Kerala high court in a judgement this year ruled, “There is no special provision in the P.C Act or DSPE Act excluding or preventing the State police or a Special Agency of the State from investigating cases relating to the corruption of the Central Government employees. None of the provisions of the P.C Act or DSPE Act authorises CBI or Central Vigilance Commission or any other Central Government Agency alone to investigate in matters relating to the Central Government employees”.
Kerala HC in a 2023 judgment has held as follows:
“There is no special provision in the P.C Act or DSPE Act excluding or preventing the State police or a Special Agency of the State from investigating cases relating to the corruption of the Central Government employees. None of… pic.twitter.com/yoV41Nr7VC
— Arvind Gunasekar (@arvindgunasekar) December 1, 2023
There has been no response from ED officials, reports Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took potshots at the Modi-led Union government, saying that the BJP’s “superstar campaigners” have “stumbled” yet again.
One of the superstar campaigners of the BJP has stumbled yet again, this time in Tamil Nadu. Weeks after an ED official was caught with a ₹15 lakhs bribe in Rajasthan, another official of the ED was caught red-handed with ₹20 lakhs for extortion and bribery.
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) December 2, 2023
Note: This copy has been updated with the news of the Tamil Nadu Police raid on the Enforcement Directorate office in Madurai and the police custody of the arrested official after it was first published.