An alleged close associate of former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashvi Yadav, Katyal was arrested in November last year by the ED in connection with the case.

Delhi Court Questions ED’s Authority to Record Doctors’ Statements Under PMLA in ‘Land-for-Jobs Scam’

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A Delhi court, while considering the interim bail plea of businessman Amit Katyal, embroiled in the alleged land-for-jobs scam, raised questions regarding the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) ability to record statements of doctors under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The case revolves around Katyal’s association with former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashvi Yadav and allegations of offering land parcels in exchange for employment opportunities within the Indian Railways.

Katyal, arrested by the ED in November last year, has been a subject of investigation by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED. The investigation stems from allegations that individuals received jobs within the Indian Railways during the tenure of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav as railways minister, in exchange for land transactions benefiting his family and associates.

Section 50 of the PMLA, discussed by Special Judge Rakesh Syal of the Rouse Avenue Court, delineates the powers of authorities in summoning individuals, procuring documents, and eliciting testimony.

During the court proceedings, the ED’s approach to recording doctors’ statements came under scrutiny. S V Raju, Additional Solicitor General of India, representing the ED, defended the practice, asserting that it aimed at uncovering the truth within the confines of the law. However, Judge Syal raised concerns regarding the potential imbalance in such interactions and questioned why the ED couldn’t await court orders like other agencies.

Responding to the court’s queries, Raju reiterated that the ED’s actions were aimed at assisting the court and ensuring thorough investigation. He cited scenarios where obtaining statements from individuals, including doctors, was necessary for the investigation process.

In defense of Katyal, Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa argued against the ED’s actions, claiming that the agency already possessed the necessary information. Pahwa highlighted instances where the ED’s intervention led to adverse consequences, such as the doctor in question ceasing communication with Katyal.

The court further deliberated on the privacy implications of sharing an individual’s medical records across multiple doctors. While Raju contended that privacy breaches occur only when information is leaked to the media, Pahwa countered, citing Indian Medical Council rules regarding patient confidentiality.

The proceedings underscored the complex legal and ethical considerations surrounding the investigation. The arguments on Katyal’s interim bail are set to continue, with the hearing scheduled for Tuesday, while discussions on his regular bail are slated for Thursday.

Katyal’s involvement with A K Infosystems Private Limited, implicated in the alleged scam, remains a focal point of the investigation. The ED’s findings suggest that the company received a land parcel linked to a candidate who secured a position within the Indian Railways. Additionally, Katyal purportedly transferred ownership of his company to Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family members in 2014.

The case highlights the ongoing legal scrutiny surrounding high-profile corruption allegations and underscores the challenges in balancing investigative rigor with individual rights and privacy concerns.

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