Like Caesar's wife, let Enforcement Directorate be above suspicion

Set up in 1956, the ED functions under the Department of Revenue. It is only recently that it has emerged as a major law-enforcement agency. In all the recent cases, the “crime” they committed happened many years ago. The recent cases help the BJP to show the Congress in a poor light. The tragedy is that this will show the law-enforcement agency in a poorer light!

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, June 03, 2022, 10:13 AM IST
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ED is on the verge of being seen in a poorer light owing to all the recent cases. | Photo: https://enforcementdirectorate.gov.in/

The notices served on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son and MP Rahul Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate would not have surprised anyone, least of all the leaders concerned. This has strengthened fears that the Union Government has been using the agency as a tool to control Opposition leaders. There are at least five Opposition leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Nationalist Congress Party leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, who are being investigated by the ED. It was early this week that Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain was arrested for alleged money laundering. Set up in 1956, the ED functions under the Department of Revenue. It is only recently that it has emerged as a major law-enforcement agency. In all these cases, the “crime” they committed happened many years ago. In the case of the Gandhis, too, their crime is not easy to decipher given the fact that no cash transactions happened and what they did was to save a sinking newspaper company the party owned.

Of course, it is not proper to give a clean chit to anyone even before the trial has begun. Malik was in the news when he questioned facts and figures of the arrest of Aryan Khan, son of film star Shah Rukh Khan, in an alleged drug case. The agency concerned has, while filing the chargesheet, admitted that the charge against Khan was baseless. The irony is that Malik, who exposed the narcotics control officer who investigated the case, is now in jail while the officer is in service with a new posting. The ED has been investigating cases mainly under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which came into being only in 2005. While it has been making a lot of sound and fury, to quote the Bard, the conviction rate has been very low. And even these involve relatively smaller amounts — in the range of Rs 3 lakh-Rs 4 crores. The ED seldom investigates money-laundering cases against leaders belonging to the ruling party. It is no secret that when high-denomination currency notes were banned, many close to the ruling party did huge questionable transactions. The ED preferred not to look around.

On the contrary, politicians like Mukul Roy, who were being investigated by the ED, suddenly became political role models when they joined the BJP. Rightly or wrongly, it is the fear of the ED and other Central agencies like the CBI that force Opposition leaders like Mayawati to lie so low as to lose her political significance in Uttar Pradesh as revealed in the recent state elections. The AAP has alleged that action against Satyendar Jain has been taken as he is in charge of the party’s campaign in election-bound Himachal Pradesh. The Congress is also within its rights to see a political motive in the action against the Gandhis. The Congress happens to be the main opponent of the BJP in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The cases will help the BJP to show them in a poor light. The tragedy is that this will show the law-enforcement agency in a poorer light!

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