In a twist to the search operations conducted by the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption at the office of the ED in Madurai following the arrest of its Enforcement Officer Ankit Tiwari on bribery charges. The central agency on Sunday accused the cops of conducting an “illegal search” and “stealing” documents from its office.
Accusations against DVAC officials
In a complaint to the DGP Shankar Jiwal, the ED’s Assistant Director, Madurai Sub-Zone, sought the registration of FIR against the DVAC officials “who have conducted the illegal search and against all the persons who have entered the office premises of the ED in an unauthorized manner and have stolen the case records of ED, taken copies, and committed other offenses.”
According to Beniwal, the ED officers signed the Panchnama (containing details of material seizure), “registering our protest.” Enclosing a copy of the Panchnama, he said only at that point the search team showed its authorization.
Discrepancies in search team composition
“When the Panchnama was drawn, we were shocked to see that there were only four persons (DVAC officers led by DSP M Sathyaseelan and three others) along with two witnesses (VAOs),” he said. Whereas a group of about 35 persons had entered its office, and many were in civilian clothes and did not produce any identity proof or authorization. They did not have search warrants.
In the garb of search, they entered the room of Tiwari and opened case files that were not relevant to the case for which they claimed to have come. They accessed sensitive case records, information, and internal documents of ED related to other cases.
Alleged ransacking of the ED office
Alleging the ED office was ransacked, Beniwal said the search team locked Tiwari’s cabin intermittently, thereby having access to records in private. “They were continuously speaking with various persons, giving information about various records, and taking instructions,” he said. The team took away “confidential records pertaining to ongoing investigations into several sensitive cases.”
“They were constantly saying that they are under pressure from seniors to do these acts,” he added.
The ED was not aware of the documents taken away by them. “There were many cases that required the protection of witnesses since ED was investigating many powerful persons in the State...These 35 persons have not offered and allowed their search either at the time of entry or exit,” he said, adding the ED had video records of the same.
Demands and legal allegations
The search operation was mala fide, Beniwal alleged. He wanted the DVAC and others to be booked for “criminal intimidation, criminal trespass, stealing sensitive documents, and taking copies of case records on mobile phones/other electronic media.”