SC ruling on Chhattisgarh 'scam': BJP lied before polls to vilify Baghel, says Congress

Supreme Court revealed that Chhattisgarh 'liquor scam' was fabricated by the ED to target ex-CM Bhupesh Baghel, says Jairam Ramesh

Bhupesh Baghel on the campaign trail (photo: @bhupeshbaghel/X)
Bhupesh Baghel on the campaign trail (photo: @bhupeshbaghel/X)


With the Supreme Court quashing an ED (Enforcement Directorate) case against a former IAS officer and his son as part of the alleged liquor scam in Chhattisgarh, the Congress on Wednesday said the BJP "shamelessly peddled" lies before the state Assembly polls in November 2023 to implicate former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, but the entire case was "politically motivated".

Congress MP and general-secretary Jairam Ramesh claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's use of the ED, CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and income tax department to hound all Opposition INDIA bloc politicians, and his use of the "washing machine" to purify the BJP's members, has killed anti-corruption movements and initiatives across the country.

"The Supreme Court revealed that the Chhattisgarh 'liquor scam' was in fact shamelessly fabricated by the ED. The BJP, through its frontal organisation the ED, had shamelessly peddled this lie before the Chhattisgarh polls last year, trying to implicate former CM Bhupesh Baghel in the 'syndicate'. There is no longer any doubt that the entire case was politically motivated," Ramesh posted on X.

In a complaint filed before a PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) special court, the ED had alleged that a criminal syndicate of politicians, private persons, and senior government officials had siphoned off Rs 2,161 crore by selling liquor illegally from 2019 to 2022, Ramesh said.

Former IAS officer Anil Tuteja and his son Yash were portrayed as the "kingpins" of this syndicate, he added.

"A bench headed by Justice A.S. Oka swiftly quashed this complaint. The court proceedings reveal just how hollow the case really was: The Tutejas were not even named as the accused in the complaint. None of the alleged offences fell under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). There was no predicate offence (first act in the chain of a crime) or proceeds of the crime. If there are no proceeds of crime, then there is no money laundering, said Justice Oka...," Ramesh pointed out.

He said the court concluded that no purpose is served by directing the special court to apply its mind.

Ramesh also claimed that all allegations of corruption, and all legal cases of prosecution on corruption-related issues, have largely become political.

In an X post on Monday, Baghel said the commitment of agencies like the ED should be towards the Constitution, not any political party. "Shameful political misuse of ED has been proved and the Modi government has been exposed. Today's decision of the Supreme Court has proved that at the behest of BJP, the ED has been conspiring to defame the opposition parties by making every case a case of money laundering," Baghel claimed in the post.

The ED registered a case in the alleged liquor scam just before the 2023 Assembly polls to defame the previous Congress government and give a political weapon to the BJP, he alleged. It has become clear from the SC ruling that the BJP was only spreading lies, the former CM claimed.

The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the money laundering case against the Tutejas, saying there were no proceeds of crime. A bench of justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan quashed the complaint after noting that since no ex-facie scheduled offence (main offence) exists against them, no offence under the PMLA was made out.

"As there is no scheduled offence, there cannot be any proceeds of crime as defined under clause 2(u) of the PMLA. If there is no proceeds of crime, the offence under PMLA is not made out," the bench ruled.

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