Chennai, October 23: 24 years after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) confiscated Rs 8.24 lakh from a city resident alleging he had violated the provisions of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA), the Supreme Court has directed the authorities to refund the amount.
In March 1990 the ED issued a memorandum to A Tajudeen saying he had received 8.24 lakh in two installments from a resident of Singapore. As the person was not an authorized dealer in foreign exchange, Tajudeen had violated the provisions of FERA, it was alleged. In October that year, ED officials raided his premises and seized the amount. The proceedings had been initiated against him on the basis of his statement before the ED on April, 20, 1989.
Tajudeen was taken into custody where he made two statements acknowledging that he had received the amount on the behest of his distant relative, Abdul Hammed, a resident of Singapore. After being released, he retracted his statements and alleged ED officials had compelled him to record them. Pronouncing him guilty, the additional directorate of enforcement (southern zone) confiscated the amount. It also slapped him with a fine of 1 lakh.
Tajudeen then appealed before the Foreign Exchange Regulation Appellate Board. After the board directed it to refund the amount and fine, the ED moved the Madras high court. In 2006, the high court set aside the verdict of the appellate board saying merely because the statements had been recorded while he was in custody, it would not mean they were not voluntary.
Tajudeen then moved the Supreme Court. An apex court bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C Nagappan said Tajudeen had “expressly refuted” executing any statement in April 1989. The ED failed to “establish through cogent evidence that Tajudeen had made the statement.” Also, after receiving the statement the ED did not initiate action, the judges said. “We are of the view that the officers of the ED were seriously negligent in gathering independent evidence of a corroborative nature,” they said, directing the agency to refund the confiscated amount along with fine.