The Patna High Court has asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to submit a report on the status of the investigation into a money-laundering case in which the accused include Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Mukesh Mittal, his clerks and family members. The ED had sent notices to the wife of a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and a senior advocate, who is the Government of India’s second senior-most law officer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in connection with the case.
“I am directed to forward a copy of the letter dated 08.04,2016 of Shri V K Singh, Registrar General, High Court of Patna, in respect of enquiry under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 against Mrs Alka Gupta, wife of Hon’ble Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, now Judge of Patna High Court. The Registrar General of the court has requested to know the status and stage of investigation with respect of the aforesaid enquiry for taking steps at their end,” the letter sent by the ED head office in New Delhi to the Regional Special Director, Chandigarh, reads.
It is not clear what action the high court intends to take in the matter — there isn’t much it can do, sources in the Union Ministry of Law and Justice said, having received “many complaints” against Justice Gupta.
Justice Gupta, originally a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was transferred to the Patna High Court a few months ago.
Late last year, the ED had sent notices under Section 50 of the PMLA to Alka Gupta and Chetan Mittal, Assistant Solicitor-General based in Chandigarh. Chetan Mittal is the brother of Mukesh Mittal.
As first reported by The Indian Express, Justice Gupta had made a phone call to the ED officer Gopesh Byadwal, who is investigating the case against his wife and others.
In the phone call, made through the mobile phone of his secretary, Dalbir Singh, on March 16 last year, the judge —- then still in the Punjab and Haryana HC —- asked Byadwal about ongoing inquiries into RMC Printers Pvt Ltd, a company in which the judge’s wife, Alka Gupta, was a director until June 27, 2009.
Following the phone call, Byadwal sent a note to his seniors, informing them about the conversation with the judge. There are documents to show financial transactions between the Mittal family and the judge’s wife and his late mother, Bimla Devi.
In its notice to Alka Gupta, the ED said that its investigations had shown that Mukesh Mittal entered into a number of clandestine property deals —- on the basis of agreement to sell, general power of attorney, questionable Lok Adalat decrees —- ensuring that he and his family/ associates became owners of the properties.
Alka Gupta’s name, according to the ED, appears in some of the companies, properties, documents and GPAs, giving rise to suspicion of multiple financial transactions with Mittal Advocates, his family members and his associates. “It is also revealed that you are involved with Mittal Advocates and their associates in some clandestine business activities, due to which you have acquired beneficial interest in various properties without paying any consideration,” the ED notice to Alka Gupta said.
When contacted, ED, Chandigarh Zone Joint Director K K Singh claimed he had “no idea” about the HC letter, while Byadwal couldn’t be reached despite repeated attempts.