What is the Enforcement Directorate? 

What is the Enforcement Directorate? 

I was reading the newspaper in the morning, and something struck my mind. ED (Enforcement Directorate) had arrested Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. This was similar to the news I saw a few months ago regarding the arrest of the daughter of Telangana’s Ex CM K Kavitha. Though the timing of these arrests is quite questionable, we are here neither to talk about politics nor conspiracy theories. How the ED or Enforcement Directorate is connected or involved in these cases piqued my interest. 

What is the Enforcement Directorate? 

ED (Enforcement Directorate)
ED (Enforcement Directorate)

The full form of ED is the Enforcement Directorate. ED is a government economic intelligence organization that implements laws of economics and defends against financial crimes in India. ED comes under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Indian Govt.

ED was founded in the year 1956. The headquarters is located in New Delhi. The ED also has many regional offices located in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, etc. It has subzonal offices in various cities, too. It comprises the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Corporate Law Service, and Indian Administrative Service officers.

Organizational structure of ED

The Directorate of Enforcement, with its headquarters in New Delhi, is headed by the director. There are five regional offices in Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and Delhi, headed by notable enforcement directors.

Zonal offices of the Directorate are at Pune, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Panaji, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, and Srinagar. A joint director heads these.

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The Directorate has sub-zonal offices at Mangaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Kozhikode, Indore, Madurai, Nagpur, Allahabad, Raipur, Dehradun, Ranchi, Surat, Shimla, Vishakhapatnam and Jammu, which a deputy director heads.

Special courts

For the trial of an offense punishable under section 4 of PMLA, the Central Government (in consultation with the chief justice of the High Court) designates one or more Sessions Courts as Special Court(s). The court is also called “PMLA Court”. Any appeal against any order passed by the PMLA court can be filed directly in the High Court for that jurisdiction.

PMLA Misconduct 

The Enforcement Directorate has been criticized for targeting scholars and activists. People are worried that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is being misused to quiet those who disagree with the government. Many activists and scholars have signed a letter speaking against this. A significant example of this is when the ED questioned researcher Navsharan Singh. Many people did not like this. People are now discussing the balance between safety and the right to speak freely. Many believe it’s crucial to protect free speech in a democracy.

Summons to farmers belonging to scheduled caste farmers mentioning their caste

The envelope of the ED summons mentioned the caste of the farmers as ‘Hindu Pallars’ on it. The ED is alleged to be pursuing the Dalit farmers – who exist on a Rs 1,000 monthly pension – as they are engaged in a land dispute case, where they have accused a local BJP leader of trying to grab their land illegally.

Acts of parliament governing the ED

  • Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA)
  • Prevention Of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA)
  • Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 (FEOA)
  • Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA)

Internal structure

The Directorate of Enforcement has the following hierarchy of officers: Assistant Enforcement Officer-Enforcement Officer-Assistant president president president president. However, with the increasing workload and the need to adjust the hierarchical needs, other designations like additional directors have also been introduced. The Directorate recruits officers as Assistant Enforcement Officers (AEO). AEOs are promoted to various levels of hierarchy and serve the Directorate of Enforcement throughout their career; however, many officers are deputed at different levels, and they remain temporarily in the ED for 2 to 5 years.

ED’s Arrest Powers Limited: SC

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of India clarified that Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials are not equivalent to police officers and, hence, cannot make arrests under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The apex court’s decision came in response to the case presented by V. Senthil Balaji and the liquor syndicate racket in Chhattisgarh. Emphasizing the importance of adhering to the rule of law, the Supreme Court stated that the ED cannot operate as “a law unto itself.” This landmark judgment underscores the boundaries of power and authority vested in the ED, ensuring checks and balances in its operations.

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