Powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED)

  • The Supreme Court witnessed a dispute between the Tamil Nadu government and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) over the ED’s jurisdiction to investigate “illegal” sand mining activities in the state.
  • TN disputed the ED’s power to investigate sand mining under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), claiming that sand mining offences were not covered by the PMLA. 

Why did the ED step in?

  • When a local police station registers a crime with proceeds over ₹1 crore, the investigating officer sends the information to the ED.
  • Alternatively, if the Central Agency becomes aware of the offence, they can request the First Information Report (FIR) or the chargesheet, if it was submitted immediately by police officers.
  • This will be done to determine whether any laundering has occurred. 

About Enforcement Directorate (ED)

EstablishmentMay 1, 1956Initially set up as an ‘Enforcement Unit’
Nodal AgencyDepartment of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Functional FocusEconomic and financial offences include money laundering and foreign exchange violations.
Investigative PowersAttachment, confiscation, and arrest.Conduct raids and searches.Summon and question individuals.
CollaborationCoordinates with various agencies (CBI, local police) and banks
Reporting AuthorityDepartment of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Corruption InvestigationsHas a separate Economic Offenses Division
Notable CasesVijay Mallya’s extradition, the PNB fraud case, and the Augusta Westland VVIP helicopter scam.
International CooperationCollaboration with international law enforcement on cross-border investigations (Interpol, FATF) 
Public InterfaceAccepts complaints and information on economic offences.
Transparency and AccountabilityRegular reports to the Ministry of Finance are subject to oversight by the judiciary and government organisations.

Legal Authority of the ED

Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA), 1974To fund cases of preventive detention due to FEMA violations.
Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999The ED is responsible for investigating and enforcing foreign exchange laws and regulations, as well as tracing assets linked to crime. 
Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002ED will investigate, track assets resulting from illicit profits, attach property, and ensure prosecution and confiscation by the Special Court (under Section 4 of the PMLA).
Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA), 2018The ED will pursue regulations relating to the attachment and confiscation of properties belonging to FEOs who have departed India to avoid the legal procedure.

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