The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate after Nirav Modi’s firm Firestar Diamond International filed a petition challenging the agency’s authority to search its properties. Modi is accused of cheating the Punjab National Bank of Rs 12,703 crore.
In its plea, Firestar Diamond challenged the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act that allowed the agency to search and seize the company’s properties and sought a copy of the search warrants from the Ministry of Finance and Enforcement Directorate. The company also sought to have quashed the investigative agency’s decision to attach movable property and deposit the same with the Punjab National Bank.
The bench said Modi’s advocate Vijay Aggarwal was not too sure of the facts of the case himself, ANI reported. “It is not clear what the amount involved is,” the High Court bench comprising justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta said. “It is not clear under what authority the Enforcement Directorate went to search the properties.”
However, the bench refrained from staying the investigations against the company and said it will make a decision only after the agency files its response. “The relevant records involved in the matter should be placed before the court on the next date of the hearing, March 19,” the bench said, according to PTI. “The officer conversant with the present case should also remain present in the court to answer all queries.”
On March 1, the Enforcement Directorate had provisionally attached 41 immovable properties belonging to Modi and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi. The properties, worth Rs 1,217 crore, were attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. This came a week after the agency had seized 21 other properties, including a farmhouse and a penthouse.
Apart from these assets, the agency has so far seized gems, diamonds, jewellery, shares, bank deposits and expensive cars from Modi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
On March 3, a special PMLA court had issued non-bailable warrants against Modi and Choksi on the agency’s request. The agency had told the court that Modi had not appeared for questioning despite being summoned three times – on February 15, 17 and 23. Both Modi and Choksi are currently outside India.