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Friday, April 23, 2021

Khaira was summoned to explain suspicious cash, property transactions: ED to High Court

The ED’s reply was filed before the bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh on Wednesday. The matter is now scheduled for hearing on April 1.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
March 25, 2021 9:44:55 am
Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Enforcement Directorate, Punjab and Haryana High court, Sukhpal Singh Khaira cases, Sukhpal Singh Khaira investigation, indian expressSukhpal Singh Khaira. (Express Photo)

In response to the petition of Sukhpal Singh Khaira against its summoning orders, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has submitted in Punjab and Haryana High Court that the Punjab MLA had been summoned to explain “unexplained cash and property transactions” found during a search of his premises.

The ED’s reply was filed before the bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh on Wednesday. The matter is now scheduled for hearing on April 1.

The agency’s reply has been filed by way of an affidavit by Raja Ram Meena, assistant director, director of enforcement.

Khaira had moved High Court seeking to quash the investigation, summoning and other proceedings by the ED against him.

The reply mentions that FIR no. 35 was registered on March 5, 2015, against 11 accused persons and other unknown persons by Punjab Police at PS Sadar Jalalabad, Fazilka district under sections 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30 of the NDPS Act, section 25 of Arms Act and section 66 of the IT Act. Furthermore, police have filed chargesheets pertaining to the case on September 6, 2015, and October 21, 2016, in the court of Fazilka against the accused.

The reply stated, “Perusal of FIR and chargesheets filed therein revealed that accused were a gang of international criminals who were indulged in smuggling of heroin, gold, arms and ammunitions etc. The accused were having cross-border links in Pakistan and smuggled heroin from Pakistan through the barbed wire fencing on the Indo-Pak border. During searches conducted by police, 1,800 grams of heroin, a .315 bore pistol and two live cartridges thereof, 2 Pakistani SIMs, .32 bore revolver and 24 live cartridges and one blank cartridge thereof, 24 gold biscuits and mobile phones were recovered and seized. Police investigation revealed that one of the main kingpins of smuggling was Major Singh Bajwa, based in the UK. The accused, Manjit Singh, son of Boota Singh, was in close contact with Major Singh Bajwa. Major Singh Bajwa used to do smuggling from Pakistan through his Lahore based close associates namely, Kalu alias Imtiaz and for that he paid money in England.”

It further said: “Investigation by Punjab Police further revealed that Gurdev Singh, who has been convicted by trial court with respect to predicate offence (FIR 35- 2015, dated March 5 -2015), used to provide funds and vehicles to Sukhpal Singh Khaira for his election campaign and made other logistic arrangements from the proceeds of crime generated from smuggling and dealing of heroin, thereby implying that proceeds of crime were used to finance elections of Sukhpal Singh Khaira and in return Sukhpal Khaira provided protection to Gurdev Singh (and others) in the smuggling of narcotic drugs. The said facts have also been established during the investigation by Punjab Police wherein other accused have revealed that Gurdev Singh had assured them if any problem arises during smuggling of heroin then Sukhpal Singh Khaira will definitely help them out…”

The ED also mentioned that during from February 27, 2015 to March 8, 2015, when Gurdev Singh was on the run in connection with the FIR no. 35 of 2015, he was in continuous contact with Sukhpal Singh Khaira, through Gurdev Singh’s UK-based sister Charanjit Kaur, Joga Singh (PSO of Khaira), and Manish (PA of Khaira). And…Gurdev Singh was in direct continuous contact with Major Singh Bajwa, who is based in the UK.

It has been further submitted by ED that a perusal of the FIR and chargesheets revealed that for smuggling of narcotic substances, payments were made in UK out of undisclosed sources and funds generated from the sale of narcotics were spend under unknown heads. In this case, not only were proceeds of crime generated but also used to finance narcotics smuggling and providing safe houses to criminals.

The matter at the Fazilka trial court was decided on October 31, 2017, wherein nine accused were convicted under sections 21, 23, 27A, 29 and 30 of NDPS Act, one was acquitted while trial is pending against one. Khaira was also summoned by the special court of Fazilka over the application of Punjab Police, against which the MLA moved High Court, where his petition was dismissed. Khaira then moved Supreme Court, where on December 31, 2017, the proceedings of the Fazilka special court were stayed, and a decision is still pending.

The ED in its reply also stated that since offences under sections 21, 23, 27 A and 29 of the NDPS Act and section 25 of the Arms Act are scheduled offences under Part ‘A’, Part ‘2’ and Part ‘5’ respectively of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, an Enforcement Case Information Report was recorded on January 21, 2021, for conducting investigation under PMLA Act, in the FIR 35 of 2015.

In the investigation, the ED, under the PMLA Act, analysed and obtained the bank accounts of convicted accused in the case of Gurdev Singh and others. Similarly, bank accounts and income tax returns of Sukhpal Khaira and his family members were analysed too and it was found that the details declared to the income tax department for the period of 2008-2009, to 2019-20, Sukhpal Khaira’s aggregate income was Rs 99,07,231 approximately, but the total deposits in his five bank accounts tallied to Rs 4.86 crore, out of which Rs 0.843 crore had been deposited in cash. Therefore, the deposits made by Khaira in his bank accounts are not commensurate with the income declared before the IT department.

Further searches were conducted on March 9, 2021, by the ED at the premises related to Gurdev Singh, Harbans Singh, Subhash Chander, Manjit Singh and Sukhpal Khaira, and M/S Valley Telegence Private Limited. During searches, documents containing cash transactions in Indian and foreign currency, suspicious property documents and electronic devices were seized. Meanwhile, a cash transaction of around Rs 4.50 crore was found and suspicious transactions in foreign currency equivalent to USD 1.19 lakh approximately were also found, stated the ED reply.

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