Dhruv Tewari Vs Directorate Of Enforcement
Date of Order:
Justice Mukta Gupta
DHRUV TEWARI – Petitioner
DIRECTORATE OF ENFORCEMENT – Respondent
It was clarified by the Delhi High Court that a Look out circular (LOC) against a person of intimation does not entail that airport authorities have authority to detain them or unduly confine them, their job is just to notify of the person’s arrival/departure the authority from where the LOC has originated.
- The petitioner’s father and grandfather had 7 RC cases going against them under the authority of the CBI, there were accusations of engaging in activities that were prohibited under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- These activities that were challenged have taken place in the years between 2005 – 2011.
- But the LOC list directed by the ECIR and the Enforcement Directorate contains the plaintiff’s grandmother and his other close relatives.
- The petitioner was not recorded as an accused in any of the proceedings initiated against his father or grandfather.
- Upon his return from Indiana, USA, the petitioner was detained at the airport upon landing for a period of 3 hours due to a LOC being issued against him.
- With this application, the petitioner requests the court to issue a writ of mandamus actionable against the LOC placed upon him.
Arguments Furthered by the Petitioner
- The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted before the Hon’ble court that all of his assets, properties, and bank accounts(including their family trust) and those of his close family members have been allegedly linked to the charges levied against his father.
- Thus, the counsel for the petitioner submits that despite him (the petitioner) being a minor during the time frame of the crimes committed, the responding party still won’t get off his case and is adamant about continuing the lookout order.
- Arguments Furthered by Respondent
- Learned counsel for the respondent states that the Accused; Prabodh Kumar Tewari and others had taken up a mission of scamming public sector banks of Rs. 2671 Crores under the alias of M/s. Century Communications Ltd.
- It was contended that this defrauded money was run through loads of transactions, bank accounts, insurance policies, and other investments to avoid tracing. It was further submitted that the late father of the petitioner opened a trust for the family called the ‘Dhruv Family Trust’.
- Thus, it was stated that the trust being in the petitioner’s name validated his connection to the investigation proceedings, and the reason for placing the LOC upon him was stated to be his lack of initiative to cooperate.
- The order was tweaked to allow the petitioner to travel abroad for his education, no restrictions were imposed.
- Whether the LOC was justified even when the petitioner is not an accused in either of the ECIRs recorded?
- The Court noted that because the petitioner was a minor when the transactions allegedly leading to the alleged offenses under the IPC, PC Act, or PMLA were committed, he was neither an accused in the predicate offense nor the two ECIRs.
- It was further observed in clause (h) of para 8 of the O.M. dated 27th Oct 2010, that a citizen cannot be obstructed or detained from moving freely or leaving the country unless he’s under trial for an offense under the IPC or any other statute.
The court ruled that a LOC of intimation does not extend to physical detention at any airport/port. It authorizes the authorities to notify the issuer of LOC of the person of interest’s arrival or departure.
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