Delhi HC refuses to suspend LOC against industrialist Atul Punj

NewsDrum Desk
24 Nov 2022

New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to suspend a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against Punj Llyod promoter Atul Punj to enable his travel abroad, saying the investigation against him under the black money law was at an initial stage.

Noting that Punj allegedly siphoned off huge amounts of money and was evading queries, while his son remained abroad and was not cooperating, the court said the discretion needed to be exercised cautiously and dismissed his petition seeking suspension of the LOC.

“Considering the fact the investigation is at initial/crucial stage and the petitioner allegedly is evading queries and has promised to give replies only on 09.12.2022 and millions have been transferred by him to foreign accounts per investigation till date, hence the discretion needs to be exercised cautiously more so when the petitioner's son has not returned to India for the last two years and is not co-operating,” said Justice Yogesh Khanna.   “Thus, considering the allegations of siphoning off huge amounts and the investigation under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign income and assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 being at initial stage, I am not inclined to suspend the LOC at this stage. The petition is thus dismissed,” the court said.

In its 8-page order, the court noted the Supreme Court has taken judicial notice of the fact that thousands of crores of Indian rupees are stashed away abroad in foreign bank accounts, posing a serious threat to the financial health and economy of the country.

The petitioner sought suspension of any LOC issued against him to enable him to travel to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Riyadh and London for a certain time period for consultancy work related to his business.

The court was informed that an LOC was opened against the petitioner, who was facing several probes including investigation by the income tax department, on the ground that he was a flight risk and should not be permitted to go abroad in larger public interest.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office informed the court that it was investigating a matter related to the petitioner's company cheating banks to the tune of Rs 12,300 crore approximately. It was alleged that the petitioner was not cooperating in the investigation, was giving evasive replies and shirking from holding any accountability.

The income tax department also said it found in its investigation that the petitioner was the beneficial owner of undeclared assets abroad and was liable for consequences under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, which include criminal prosecution.

Punj Lloyd is an engineering, procurement and construction company providing services in energy, infrastructure and defence sectors. PTI ADS  SK SK

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