The Patna High Court has temporarily stayed proceedings in a money laundering case brought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against an individual accused of supplying liquor in Bihar, allegedly violating the Bihar Excise Prohibition Act, 2016. The Court relied upon the Judgment of the Apex Court in Pavana Dibbur Vs. The Directorate of Enforcement, which held that the offence punishable under Section 120B of the IPC will become a scheduled offence only if the conspiracy alleged is of committing an offence which is specifically included in the schedule.

The petitioner sought to quash ECIR, which was initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the petitioner and others for allegedly generating proceeds of crime from the supply of liquor in violation of the Bihar Excise Prohibition Act, 2016.

A Bench of Justice Satyavrat Verma instructed the ED to respond to the petition seeking the dismissal of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed by the ED in 2022.

Advocate Lokesh Kumar Singh appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Ankit Kumar Singh appeared for the Union of India.

The petitioner's counsel argued that the ECIR could not have been initiated by the ED for an offense not listed as a scheduled offense, and that conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) could only make an offense a scheduled offense if it was specifically included in the schedule.

Furthermore, the petitioner's counsel pointed out that the offenses alleged against the petitioner were not scheduled offenses under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and thus, the ED could not proceed against the petitioner. They highlighted that several FIRs against the petitioner had been stayed by the court.

The Union of India and the Enforcement Directorate requested six weeks to file a counter affidavit responding to the quashing application and addressing the arguments presented by the petitioner's counsel.

The Court granted the request and scheduled the next hearing for April 29, 2024.

Additionally, the Court ordered a stay on further proceedings in ECIR until the next hearing, clarifying that the stay applied only to the petitioner in this case.

Cause Title: Sunil Bhardwaj v. Deputy Director


Petitioner: Advocates Lokesh Kumar Singh and Anshuman Sahani

Respondents: Advocate Krishna Nandan Singh, Ankit Kumar Singh and Prabhat Kumar

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