The Supreme Court on Tuesday reprimanded five district collectors from Tamil Nadu for failing to appear before the Enforcement Directorate despite being summoned for questioning in an alleged money-laundering case, PTI reported.

The court said that the officials displayed a “cavalier approach” and that their actions showed they had no respect for the law.

The summons were issued to the district collectors of Vellore, Tiruchirappalli, Karur, Thanjavur and Ariyalur. A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal on Tuesday directed them to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on April 25.

The case pertains to allegations of irregularities and malpractices in the mining and sale of river sand in Tamil Nadu. The Enforcement Directorate is investigating allegations of money-laundering linked to the case based on first information reports registered across the state.

On November 28, the Madras High Court had stayed the summons to the district collectors, after which the agency approached the top court. The Supreme Court on February 27 stayed the High Court order and asked the collectors to appear before the Enforcement Directorate.

On Tuesday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Tamil Nadu government, said the district collectors had been unable to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on account of the Lok Sabha elections, polling for which will be held in Tamil Nadu on April 19.

The state government also said that a review application has been filed against the Supreme Court order lifting the stay on summons.

The Supreme Court, however, said that the district collectors should have respected the court order.

“In our opinion, such a cavalier approach will land them in a difficult situation,” the bench said. “When the court had passed the order directing them to appear in response to the summons issued by the ED, they were expected to obey the same order and remain present before the ED.”