CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has questioned the inaction of the authorities of the enforcement directorate regarding the non-payment of the penalty slapped on ex-MP and founder of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam TTV Dhinakaran for violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) in obtaining foreign contributions.
“It is Rs 28 crore (of default on payment of penalty). The order came in 2008. It is now 2023. None had bothered about it,” a division bench of Justices R Subramanian and R Kalaimathi said. Indicating that government authorities would act swiftly on petty issues but remain slack on matters like the default of such a huge amount, the bench noted at least 40 officials would go along with a JCB if it were a matter of encroachment of 100 sqft of land.
The observations were made when a petition on the proceedings of ED for insolvency against Dhinakaran for failing to pay the penalty came up for hearing. Raising a question to the counsel for Dhinakaran, the judge asked did he got any immunity only because of being an MP then, and said every one, be it the President or the PM, is equal before the law. The case pertains to the insolvency proceedings initiated by ED against Dhinakaran.
Additional Solicitor General ARL Sundaresan, representing the ED, said Rs 31 crore adjudicated by the authority under FERA was modified by the appellate tribunal as Rs 28 crore and it is a civil liability though it is called a penalty under the Act.
“All the authorities exercise the power of the civil court while conducting the adjudication proceedings. Hence it is a DEBT as per the insolvency laws,” he said, adding since Dhinakaran has not paid even a penny, he is a defaulter and so, the notice of insolvency is valid.