Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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SC stays ED proceedings against Natwar in "oil-for-food" scam Former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh got reprieve from the Supreme Court which stayed Enforcement Directorate (ED) proceedings against him and his son Jagat Singh in the Iraqi 'oil-for-food' scam. A bench of Justices B N Aggarwal and G S Singhvi issued notices to the ED on the former minister's petition challenging the investigations being conducted against him by the agency. The ED had in September 2006 issued show-cause notices to Natwar, his son and four others for alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in connection with the scam. Natwar alleged that the ED's investigation was motivated and done with a malafide intention. He said the Justice R S Pathak Committee had not made any reference to his alleged involvement in the scam. The Pathak Committee was set up to inquire into whether any Indian entity or individual received any money or other consideration in connection with the "oil-for-food" programme in the wake of findings of the Volcker Committee which made a mention of alleged kickbacks received by some influential Indians in oil deals. Natwar had moved the apex court by way of a special leave petition (SLP) after the Delhi High Court on 28th March granted green signal to the ED authorities to conduct investigations. Natwar and his son demanded that they be given those documents on which the ED had not relied upon while issuing show-cause notices to them. They had also sought 83 documents which were brought by India's special envoy Virender Dayal from the United States relating to the Volcker Committee report. The ED opposed the contention saying the law did not permit the government to provide the documents which had not been relied upon by the agency. Natwar quit the Government on 6th December 2005. He was divested of the key External Ministry portfolio in November 2005 and made a minister without portfolio. He and Jagat, who was expelled by the party's Rajasthan unit, approached the Delhi High Court when the ED refused to provide these documents. After a probe into the alleged kick-backs to Indian entities in the oil-for-food programme which took ED sleuths to Iraq, Jordan, London and the US, the Directorate had served the show-cause notices to Natwar, Jagat, family friend Andaleep Sehghal, Aditya Khanna, a relative of Natwar besides certain others. While the Pathak Authority has not been able to trace any money transactions to either Singh or his son, the ED claimed the money trail allegedly led to Jagat, which was denied by him. Singh was suspended from the party on 8th August 2006. He quit the Government in the wake of the Volcker Committee findings in which he and his son were named as beneficiaries. The Pathak Inquiry Authority found that he had used his position to get oil contracts from the Saddam Hussein regime for his son's friend Andaleeb Sehgal. However, the Authority said Singh did not personally benefit from the deal. Natwar in his SLP before the apex court contended that the Pathak Committee report does not indict him of any financial or other misdemeanour. He submitted that the "adjudicating authority" (ED) had violated the principles of natural justice by denying him the documents which he had sought for relying on his defence. Quoting the Foreign Exchange Management (Adjudication Proceedings & Appeal) Rules, 2000, Natawar has argued that it was the duty of the ED to furnish him with relevant materials to enable him prove his innocence.
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